Italy recall Masi at fullback for Mallet's last hurrah
Masi, the 2011 Six Nations player of the championship, replaces Luke McLean in the only change to the Italian starting lineup which beat the United States 27-10 in Nelson on Tuesday.
It is a vastly experienced team. The starting lineup aggregates 744 test caps. Eight of those starting, and three on the bench, have played 60 or more tests.
The match in Dunedin will be Mallett's last in charge of the Azzurri unless they can upset Ireland and make the quarter-finals of the World Cup for the first time.
"If you took it on wins and losses (nine wins and 32 losses) you would be disappointed," Mallett said of his four years in charge.
"But most of our opponents have been teams in the Six Nations and the Tri-Nations. We've only three times played teams who are ranked below us in the international rankings."
"I think Italy have improved tremendously in the past four years, and especially in the last two."
"It's been a great four years and I've enjoyed the last two as much as I've enjoyed coaching any team. In human terms, I'm closer to these guys than any others I've coached."
"Whatever happens, I'll be saying goodbye. The way this side has come to be respected has been a highlight. We're turned around the way other international teams think about us. It's going to be a difficult day for me when I finish because I'm very close to the players."
Mallett, the former successful South Africa coach, said motivation would not be a problem for the Azzurri against Ireland.
"I don't really have to talk to the players a lot about this game. If we play really well we've got a chance."
"Ireland's a very complete team and it's going to be a very tough game for us. Ronan O'Gara is a very accurate goal-kicker and we are going to have to be very disciplined."
"This team has improved so much that what has happened against Ireland in the past is now just a frustration. There comes a time when you believe you're equal to your foes."
Mallett said the 11-13 loss to Ireland in Rome in February still rankled with his players.
"It was very disappointing. The changing room was very quiet. It was one of the first times there was genuine disappointment not to have won a game. I took that as a good sign."
"The mental attitude has improved. They're not just satisfied with being competitive now. They want to win."