Ten new faces in Brunel's Italy Six Nations Nations squad


Rome (AFP)

Italy coach Jacques Brunel on Wednesday called up 10 new faces to his Six Nations squad ahead of their opening match against France on February 6.

South African born back-rowers Andries Van Schalkwyk and Abraham Steyn were amongst the 10 uncapped players.

"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," said Brunel in a statement.

The other new faces are props Andrea Lovotti and Matteo Zanusso, hooker Ornel Gega, flanker Jacopo Sarto, fly-half Edoardo Padovani, centre Tommaso Castello, wing Mattia Bellini and full-back David Odiete.

Frenchman Brunel has also been able to welcome back from injury a few established players, including New Zealand-born fly-half Kelly Haimona.

Italy's injury problems mean that Brunel has picked just 16 of his 31-man World Cup squad.

Crucially, though, captain Sergio Parisse, who earlier this week was named French Top 14 player of the season for 2014/15, is amongst them after an injury-ravaged World Cup in which he played only 65 minutes due to a calf problem.

Also included are veteran props Martin Castrogiovanni of Racing 92 in France and Lorenzo Cittadini, plying his trade at Wasps in England, hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini of England's Leicester, and Exeter centre Michele Campagnaro, likewise playing in the English Premiership.

Following their opening match at the Stade de France in Paris, Italy will host England in Rome on February 14.


Forwards: Martin Castrogiovanni (Racing 92/FRA), Dario Chistolini (Zebre), Lorenzo Cittadini (Wasps/ENG), Andrea Lovotti (Zebre), Matteo Zanusso (Treviso), Ornel Gega (Treviso), Leonardo Ghiraldini (Leicester/ENG), Valerio Bernabo (Zebre), George Fabio Biagi (Zebre), Marco Fuser (Treviso), Francesco Minto (Treviso), Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais/FRA), Jacopo Sarto (Zebre), Abraham Steyn (Treviso), Andries Van Schalkwyk (Zebre), Alessandro Zanni (Treviso)

Backs: Edoardo Gori (Treviso), Guglielmo Palazzani (Zebre), Carlo Canna (Zebre), Edoardo Padovani (Zebre), Mattia Bellini (Petrarca Padova), Giulio Bisegni (Zebre), Michele Campagnaro (Exeter/ENG), Tommaso Castello (Calvisano), Gonzalo Garcia (Zebre), Kelly Haimona (Zebre), Luke McLean (Treviso), David Odiete (Marchiol Mogliano), Andrea Pratichetti (Treviso), Leonardo Sarto (Zebre)