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Troncon is back for Italy's opener

ROME, Italy -- Alessandro Troncon makes his first Six Nations appearance in nearly two years after being named start for Italy in their opener against Ireland on Sunday.

The scrumhalf, the Azzurri's most capped player with 85 international appearances under his belt, last appeared in the tournament against Scotland in 2003.

The 31-year-old replaces Paul Griffen, who is struggling to recover from a muscle strain.

Troncon should prove an experienced and steadying presence alongside fellow halfback Luciano Orquera, who will be winning just his fourth cap in his first Six Nations match.

Winger Ludovico Nitoglia, 21, also makes his first appearance in the tournament, a reward for his impressive performance in the 51-6 demolition of Canada last November.

Azzurri coach John Kirwan also reaffirmed his faith in the centre pairing of Gonzalo Canale and Andrea Masi, who combined so successfully in that match.

Italy's only injury worry in their starting line-up is hooker Fabio Ongaro, who picked up a groin strain in Italy's 31-14 victory over a World XV selection in Catania at the weekend.

Giorgio Intoppa is ready to step in if Ongaro fails a fitness test.

Italy beat just Scotland in last year's Six Nations, while Ireland start the campaign with high hopes of taking the title for the first time in 20 years.

Team: Roland De Marigny; Mirco Bergamasco, Gonzalo Canale, Andrea Masi, Ludovico Nitoglia; Luciano Orquera, Alessandro Troncon; Sergio Parisse, Mauro Bergamasco, Aaron Persico; Marco Bortolami, Santiago Dellape, Martin Castrogiovanni, Fabio Ongaro or Giorgio Intoppa, Andrea Lo Cicero

Replacements: Salvatore Perugini, Giorgio Intoppa or Carlo Festuccia, Carlo Antonio Del Fava, David Dal Maso, Paul Griffen or Pietro Travagli, Walter Pozzebon, Paul Kaine Robertson

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