Italy seek 'perfect mix' for Scotland opener
Italy Head Coach Franco Smith today named what he hopes is the ‘perfect mix’ of youth and experience to face Scotland at the Stadio Artemio Franchi in Florence in the Autumn Nations Cup this Saturday (kick-off 12.45pm GMT) – live on Amazon Prime Video.
Among the most noteworthy in the side is wing Jacopo Trulla, who will make his debut from the outset and feature as the only player in the starting line-up who plays his club rugby in the Italian domestic Top10. He will have the experience of Mattia Bellini (Zebre) and Matteo Minozzi (Wasps) alongside him in the back-three.
In midfield, the ever-present and 44-times capped inside-centre Carlo Canna (Zebre) partners Leone Marco Zanon (Benetton), one year on from his first and only international appearance to date, while promising 20-year-old Benetton stand-off Paolo Garbisi is set for a third outing alongside Zebre’s Marcello Violi at scrum-half, completing the back division.
Comfortably the most experienced starting unit on the field is the back-row, where Smith will once again rely on the loose trio of Jake Polledri (Gloucester), Braam Steyn and Sebastian Negri (both Benetton Rugby), who combine for 66 appearances.
Bennetton duo Niccolò Cannone and Marco Lazzaroni form the second-row behind captain and hooker Luca Bigi, who packs down in an all-Zebre front-row with Danilo Fischietti and Giosuè Zilocchi.
Experienced Italian hooker and centurion, Leonardo Ghiraldini, returns to the side for a place on the bench, nearly two years since his last appearance in the national team.
The bench is completed by Simone Ferrari, Pietro Ceccarelli, Johan Meyer, Maxime Mbandà, Stephen Varney – ready to make his debut following his involvement for the U20 side – Tommaso Allan and Federico Mori.
Italy head Coach, Franco Smith, said: “An interesting tournament begins and we can't wait to take the field to face this new challenge. We have worked well with the usual passion and motivation.
“There will be young players who will take the field for the first time with the national team together with those who have made the history for this shirt – a perfect mix to help build our team identity.”
ITALY TEAM TO PLAY SCOTLAND AT THE STADIO ARTEMIO FRANCHI, 2020 AUTUMN NATIONS CUP
Saturday 14 November (kick-off 12.45pm GMT) – live on Amazon Prime Video
15. Matteo Minozzi (London Wasps) – 20 caps
14. Jacopo Trulla (Kawasaki Robot Calvisano) – uncapped
13. Marco Zanon (Benetton Rugby) – 1 cap
12. Carlo Canna (Zebre) – 44 caps
11. Mattia Bellini (Zebre) – 27 caps
10. Paolo Garbisi (Benetton Rugby) – 2 caps
9. Marcello Violi (Zebre) – 17 caps
1. Danilo Fischetti (Zebre) – 5 caps
2. Luca Bigi CAPTAIN (Zebre) – 29 caps
3. Giosuè Zilocchi (Zebre) – 7 caps
4. Marco Lazzaroni (Benetton Rugby) – 8 caps
5. Niccolò Cannone (Benetton Rugby) – 5 caps
6. Sebastian Negri (Benetton Rugby) – 27 caps
7. Braam Steyn (Benetton Rugby) – 41 caps
8. Jake Polledri (Gloucester Rugby) – 18 caps
16. Leonardo Ghiraldini (unattached) – 104 caps
17. Simone Ferrari (Benetton Rugby) – 31 caps
18. Pietro Ceccarelli (Brive) – 11 caps
19. Johan Meyer (Zebre) – 6 caps
20. Maxime Mbanda (Zebre) – 22 caps
21. Stephen Varney (Gloucester Rugby) – uncapped
22. Tommaso Allan (Benetton Rugby) – 57 caps
23. Federico Mori (Kawasaki Robot Calvisano) – 1 cap