Saturday 24 March 2018

Lengthy injury list forces Jacques Brunel to select new-look Italian squad for Six Nations

Sergio Parisse will continue as Italy captain
Sergio Parisse will continue as Italy captain

Nick Purewal

Kelly Haimona has returned to Italy's injury-hit RBS 6 Nations squad that includes 10 uncapped additions.

Long-serving number eight Sergio Parisse continues as captain, but Italy are missing 10 frontline stars ahead of their Six Nations opener against France in Paris on Saturday, February 6.

Zebre team-mates Carlo Canna and the uncapped Edoardo Padovani will contest the fly-half berth, with Haimona to be deployed in the centres.

Head coach Jacques Brunel believes Italy will be boosted by the presence of fit-again trio of lock George Biagi and centres Giulio Bisegni and Haimona, who missed the World Cup with a broken arm.

"Training camps this winter have allowed us to see a large number of athletes and evaluate attractive alternatives to our many injuries we have to confront in the first part of the tournament," said Brunel.

"We have some significant returns, like Biagi, Bisegni and Haimona, who all had good impacts in the last Six Nations before getting injured."

New fly-half Padovani heads a lengthy cast list of rookie additions for Italy, with front-rowers Andrea Lovotti, Matteo Zanusso and Ornel Gega joined by back-row forwards Jacopo Sarto, Abraham Steyn and Andries van Schalkwyk.

Three-quarters Mattia Bellini, Tommaso Castello and David Odiete complete Italy's untested recruits, as Brunel battles a hefty casualty list.

Playmaker Tommaso Allan, tight-five duo Josh Furno and Quintin Geldenhuys and Leicester front-rower Michele Rizzo have all been ruled out of Italy's early Six Nations action.

The quartet are among 10 injured Italy stars excluded from Brunel's 30-strong squad, with the head coach hoping a clutch of those sidelined can still feature later in the tournament.

Italy's squad for this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship:

Backs: E Gori (Treviso), G Palazzani (Zebre), C Canna, E Padovani (both Zebre), M Bellini (Padova), G Bisegni (Zebre), M Campagnaro (Exeter), T Castello (Calvisano), G Garcia, K Haimona (both Zebre), L McLean (Treviso), D Odiete (Mogliano), A Pratichetti (Treviso), L Sarto (Zebre).

Forwards: M Castrogiovanni (Racing 92), D Chistolini (Zebre), L Cittadini (Wasps), A Lovotti (Zebre), Matteo Zanusso, O Gega (both Treviso), L Ghiraldini (Leicester), V Bernabo, G Biagi (both Zebre), M Fuser, F Minto (both Treviso), S Parisse (capt, Stade Francais), J Sarto (Zebre), A Steyn (Treviso), A Van Schalkwyk (Zebre), A Zanni (Treviso).

Online Editors

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport