Italy hand three uncapped players call-ups for Six Nations

Rugby

Interim Italy coach Franco Smith has named a 35-man squad for next month’s Six Nations, handing call-ups to three uncapped players.

Former South Africa international Smith, who led the Cheetahs to Currie Cup glory last year, was handed the task of leading the Azzuri through the Six Nations after Conor O’Shea’s departure following the World Cup.

The squad features 30 players who play their club rugby in Italy, which includes Benetton centre Alberto Sgarbi, who is called up for the first time in six years. Marcelo Violi, Giovanni Licata and Tommaso Boni are also handed recalls after missing the World Cup.

There could also be a first cap for 21-year-old Michelangelo Biondelli, who has impressed for Zebre, while Niccolo Cannone and Michelangelo Biondelli are also uncapped having featured for Italy’s under-20s.

Centre Michele Campagnaro, a stalwart of the side in recent years, will miss the tournament after injuring his knee during Harlequins’ Premiership clash with Leicester at Twickenham last month.

Sergio Parisse, who was denied his 143rd cap during the Rugby World Cup after the impact of Typhoon Hagibis saw Italy’s final pool stage match against New Zealand cancelled, is not included in the squad, but looks set to be a part of the team for the country’s home games during the tournament as he bids farewell to international rugby. He will feature against Scotland on Feb. 22 and England on March 14.

The squad will meet for a training camp in Rome between Jan. 19-26, before opening their campaign against Wales in Cardiff on Feb. 1.

Italy 2020 Six Nations Squad

Forwards:

Luca Bigi (Zebre), Dean Bubb (Benetton), Niccolo Cannone (Benetton), Pietro Ceccarelli (Edinburgh), Oliviero Fabiani (Zebre), Danilo Fischetti (Zebre), Marco Lazzaroni (Benetton), Giovanni Licata (Zebre), Andrea Lovotti (Zebre), Johan Meyer (Zebre), Sebastian Negri (Benetton), Jake Polledri (Gloucester), Marco Riccioni (Benetton), Federico Ruzza (Benetton), David Sisi (Zebre), Abraham Steyn (Benetton), Federico Zani (Benetton), Alessandro Zanni (Benetton), Giosuè Zilocchi (Zebre)

Backs

Tommaso Allan (Benetton), Mattia Bellini (Zebre), Tommaso Benvenuti (Benetton), Michelangelo Biondelli (Zebre), Giulio Bisegni (Zebre), Tommaso Boni (Zebre), Callum Braley (Gloucester), Carlo Canna (Zebre), Jayden Hayward (Benetton), Matteo Minozzi (Wasps), Luca Morisi (Benetton), Edoardo Padovani (Zebre), Guglielmo Palazzani (Zebre), Leonardo Sarto (Benetton), Alberto Sgarbi (Benetton), Marcello Violi (Zebre)

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