Italy head coach Jacques Brunel yesterday included 10 new faces as he announced his 30-man squad for next month’s RBS Six Nations.
Since joining the tournament setup, Italy have struggled to assert themselves in Test rugby and despite finishing fifth last year ahead of Scotland, the squad will know they have a tough challenge on their hands if they are to repeat that feat again this year.
Therefore, 62-year-old Frenchman Brunel has opted to blood a new generation of players as he looks to strengthen the depth of his squad whilst also pushing his stars to perform better.
Amongst the newly selected were South African-born back-rowers Andries Van Schalkwyk and Abraham Stein as injuries have forced the head coach into only being able to select 16 of his 31-man Rugby World Cup squad.
Speaking of his squad selection, as reported by Sky Sports, Brunel said:
The one-day get-togethers this winter gave us the opportunity to look at a lot of players and to prepare some interesting alternatives to the great number of injured players from whom we’ll have to pick a squad for this first Six Nations match.
However, he will have to do without the services of talismanic centre Andrea Masi who is still unavailable through injury as well as fellow centre Lucas Morisi, with the former suffering from an Achilles injury suffered against France in their opening World Cup fixture to France whilst the latter is still recovering from a knee ligament injury that also ruled him out of last year’s World Cup.
Yet despite the bad news regarding his two centres, good news came in the form of the availability of French Top 14 Player of the Season for 2014/15 as captain Sergio Parisse has been selected and will be looking to make amends for a poor World Cup turnout after managing only 65 minutes during the whole tournament.
Italy squad for RBS Six Nations:
Forwards: Martin Castrogiovanni, Dario Chistolini, Lorenzo Cittadini, Andrea Lovotti, Matteo Zanusso, Ornel Gega, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Valerio Bernabo, George Fabio Biagi, Marco Fuser, Francesco Minto, Sergio Parisse, Jacopo Sarto, Abraham Steyn, Andries Van Schalkwyk, Alessandro Zanni
Backs: Edoardo Gori, Guglielmo Palazzani, Carlo Canna, Edoardo Padovani, Mattia Bellini, Giulio Bisegni, Michele Campagnaro, Tommaso Castello, Gonzalo Garcia, Kelly Haimona, Luke McLean, David Odiete, Andrea Pratichetti, Leonardo Sarto