ROME – Coach Conor O’Shea on Tuesday called up five uncapped players for Italy’s 34-man squad for three Test matches in November.
Captain and No 8 Sergio Parisse and hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini, absent during the summer tour, both make their return to the squad for games against Fiji, Argentina and South Africa on consecutive weekends between November 11-25.
The five new faces are fullback Matteo Minozzi, Ireland-born flyhalf Ian McKinley, New Zealand-born centre Jayden Hayward, and loose forwards Renato Giammarioli and Giovanni Licata.
“Despite numerous injuries, there’s been much discussion within the team management over several positions,” said O’Shea.
“The quality of the work done by Benetton Rugby and Zebre Rugby, and more generally at all levels of Italian rugby, is starting to have a real impact on the quality and quantity of players at our disposition.”
Turning to his team’s tough line-up of matches, O’Shea said: “We have our feet on the ground and we know very well how tough the upcoming games will be.
“But we’re also conscious of the fact that we’re making significant progress towards our goal, which is to again become an extremely competitive team at international level.”
Props: Dario Chistolini, Simone Ferrari, Andrea Lovotti, Tiziano Pasquali, Federico Zani
Hookers: Luca Bigi, Oliviero Fabiani, Leonardo Ghiraldini
Locks: George Fabio Biagi, Dean Budd, Marco Fuser, Marco Lazzaroni, Federico Ruzza
Loose forwards: Renato Giammarioli, Giovanni Licata, Maxime Mata Mbanda, Francesco Minto, Sergio Parisse (captain), Abraham Steyn
Scrumhalves: Edoardo Gori, Tito Tebaldi, Marcello Violi
Flyhalves: Carlo Canna, Ian McKinley
Centres: Tommaso Benvenuti, Tommaso Boni, Tommaso Castello, Jayden Hayward
Wings: Mattia Bellini, Angelo Esposito, Leonardo Sarto, Giovambattista Venditti
Fullbacks: Matteo Minozzi, Edoardo Padovani