TOKYO – Jayden Hayward will make his first international start in the midfield after spending almost all of his test career as a fullback after Italy coach Conor O'Shea shook up his side for their World Cup Pool B clash with Canada on Thursday.
The New Zealand-born Hayward has played 21 tests for Italy since making his debut in 2017 after qualifying on residency grounds, with all but six of the appearances in the number 15 jersey.
He has played in the centres as a replacement in four matches.
The 32-year-old is one of only five players that started the Italian's first World Cup match against Namibia on Sunday retained for Thursday's match, with O'Shea forced to test his side's depth given the short turnaround.
Hayward, hooker Luca Bigi, flyhalf Tommaso Allan, centre Tommaso Benvenuti and loose forward Braam Steyn also started against Namibia.