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Azzurri give stand-in Burton chance to put boot into Irish

WHO is Kris Burton? That was the question on the lips of many Irish rugby supporters yesterday after Burton was asked to fill in for Craig Gower at out-half in the Italy side to take on Ireland in Rome tomorrow.

The answer is that Burton, like Gower, is an Australian who qualifies for Italy through his mother and moved to her homeland seven years ago to pursue a professional rugby career, going on to win four caps.

The 30-year-old played Australian Rules as a child in Brisbane, but committed to rugby in secondary school with considerable success until he failed to make the Super 12 cut for the Queensland Reds and made the move to Europe.

At 5ft9ins and 13 stone, he is not the biggest No 10 around, but he is very effective with the boot and has been starting regularly for Benetton Treviso this season, scoring two drop-goals in their victory over Leinster in September.

Burton forms a new half-back partnership with clubmate Edoardo Gori, the 20-year-old who wins his third cap at scrum-half, but elsewhere there are a host of familiar names and a clear tactical plan from coach Nick Mallett.

The South African is looking to dominate the Irish up front through the power of the likes of Martin Castrogiovanni, Salvatore Perugini, Alessandro Zanni, Josh Sole and captain Sergio Parisse, who has recovered from injury to play at No 8.

Out wide there is the familiar presence of Mirco Bergamasco, Gonzalo Canale, Andrea Masi and Luke McLean but it is up front where Italy will seek to win this encounter when the drop-goal of Burton could also come into play.

ITALY (v Ireland) -- L McLean (Benetton Treviso); A Masi (Racing Metro), G Canale (Clermont Auvergne), A Sgarbi (Benetton Treviso), M Bergamasco (Racing Metro); K Burton (Benetton Treviso), E Gori (Benetton Treviso); S Perugini (Aironi), L Ghiraldini (Benetton Treviso), M Castrogiovanni (Leicester Tigers), S Dellape' (Racing Metro), Q Geldenhuys (Aironi), J Sole (Aironi), A Zanni (Benetton Treviso), S Parisse (Stade Francais, capt) Reps: F Ongaro (Aironi), A Lo Cicero (Racing Metro), C del Fava (Aironi),V Bernabo (Benetton Treviso), P Canavosio (Aironi), L Orquera (Brive), G Garcia (Benetton Treviso).

Irish Independent