The mighty All Blacks suffered their first ever pool-stage defeat at the hands of hosts France at the start of the tournament, but duly breezed past Namibia in a thumping bonus-point victory last time out.
Still, it has been a difficult few years and to suggest this will be a walk in the park would ignore all the disappointment and baggage picked up since 2019.
Ian Foster’s side simply do not strike fear into their opponents quite as much anymore and, even if they do beat Italy, it appers that a huge challenge against No1-ranked Ireland will await in the quarter-finals.
Date, kick-off time and venue
New Zealand vs Italy is scheduled for an 8pm BST kick-off tonight on Friday September 29, 2023.
The OL Stadium in Lyon will host the Pool A match.
Where to watch New Zealand vs Italy
TV channel: The game will be broadcast live and free to air on ITV1 in the UK, with coverage starting at 7.30pm.
Live stream: ITV will also offer a free live stream online via its website and the ITVX app.
Live blog: Follow the action tonight live with Standard Sport’s dedicated match blog.
New Zealand vs Italy team news
Veteran second row Sam Whitelock will come off the bench to make his 149th appearance for the All Blacks on Friday night, becoming his country’s all-time cap holder.
Shannon Frizell, Jordie Barrett and Tyrel Lomax all return to the starting XV after injury, with captain Sam Cane back among the replacements.
Italy, meanwhile, have made three changes from their 38-17 win over Uruguay, with Dino Lamb replacing Niccolo Cannone at lock. Stephen Varney starts at scrum-half with Luca Morisi also introduced while Tommaso Allan returns to full-back.
New Zealand vs Italy lineups
New Zealand XV: B Barrett; Jordan, Ioane, J Barrett, Telea; Smith, Mo’unga; Tu’ungafasi, Taylor, Laulala; Retallick, S Barrett; Frizell, Papali’i, Savea (c)
Replacements: Coles, Williams, Lomax, Whitelock, Cane, Roigard, McKenzie, Lienert-Brown
Italy XV: Allan; Capuozzo, Brex, Morisi, Ioane; Varney, Garbisi; Fischetti, Nicotera, Riccioni; Lamb, Ruzza; Negri, Lamaro (c), L Cannone
Replacements: Faiva, Nemer, Ferrari, N Cannone, Zuliani, Halafihi, Page-Relo, Odogwu
New Zealand vs Italy referee
England’s Matthew Carley will take charge of the game.
New Zealand vs Italy prediction
The All Blacks, of course, are favourites but it would be unwise to suggest that Italy cannot cause them problems.
They are in better form than New Zealand, even if history is against them.
New Zealand to win with a bonus point.
Head to head (h2h) history and results
New Zealand have never lost to Italy in their history.
New Zealand wins: 15
Italy wins: 0
New Zealand vs Italy match odds
New Zealand to win: 1/50
Italy to win: 20/1
Odds via Betfair (subject to change).