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Friday, 14 February, 2003, 15:55 GMT
Bergamasco wings in
Mauro Bergamasco scores a stunning try against Scotland in the 2001 Championship
Bergamasco's pace and power can trouble Wales
Italy have named star flanker Mauro Bergamasco on the wing for their Six Nations opener against Wales on Saturday.

The 23-year-old from Padua has won the majority of his 27 caps at openside, but had a successful trial outing on the wing last week.

Azzurri coach John Kirwan believes the switch could see the elder of the Bergamasco brothers wreak similar havoc to that unleashed by New Zealand giant Jonah Lomu.

"Mauro is a fantastic athlete," Kirwan said. "I doubt if there are too many players in the world who can do what he can do. He's our Lomu."

Diego Dominguez shouts out orders for Italy
Dominguez returns at fly-half
Bergamasco, who plays for Treviso, has only previously played on the wing in his youth.

"It's a new role for him but he he such a strong player, he can adapt easily," Kirwan added.

Elsewhere, inexperienced hooker Carlo Festuccia has been handed his debut ahead of Andrea Moretti, who is on the bench.

Lock Cristian Bezzi also wins his first cap alongside Marco Bortolami in the second row.

The back division has a more settled look with the experienced Paolo Vaccari shaking off a hip problem to take his place at full-back.

Mirco Bergamasco, younger brother of Marco, is among the replacements.

Cristian Stoica and Giovanni Raineri link up in the centre with Denis Dallan passed fit to play on the other wing.

The vastly experienced half-back combination of Alessandro Troncon and Diego Dominguez is restored, with Rotherham's Ramiro Pez relegated to the bench.

"Having Diego available is a big boost for everybody and has made me more relaxed," Kirwan said earlier this week.

Two New Zealanders - Aaron Persico and number eight Matthew Phillips - line up in the back row alongside Andrea De Rossi


Italy team: P Vaccari; M Bergamasco, C Stoica, G Raineri, D Dallan; D Dominguez, A Troncon (capt); G De Carli, C Festuccia, R Martinez, C Bezzi, M Bortolami, A De Rossi, A Persico, M Phillips.
Replacements: A Moretti, S Perugini, M Giacheri, S Palmer, J Queirolo, R Pez, M Bergamasco.

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12 Feb 03 | International
10 Feb 03 | International
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