Conor O’Shea has unveiled an experimental Italy starting XV for their final World Cup warm-up game against England at St James’ Park on Friday night.
After a heavy defeat to France last time out, O’Shea has retained only four players to start against England – they are Jayden Hayward, Mattia Bellini, Simone Ferrari and Braam Steyn.
Dean Budd captains in the absence of the rested Sergio Parisse and is joined by David Sisi in the second row while Seb Negri gets the chance to impress in the back row alongside Steyn and Jimmy Tuivaiti, the latter is included despite not making Italy’s 31-man squad.
Behind the scrum, Callum Braley will make his first Azzurri start at No.9 inside Carlo Canna while Tommaso Benvenuti and Giulio Bisegni are the starting midfield.
In the back three Hayward wears No.15 again with Bellini on the right wing and Edoardo Padovani in on the left for Matteo Minozzi.
In the front row Nicola Quaglio and Ferrari prop up Oliviero Fabiani while there is also a forward heavy 6-2 split on the bench with the likes of Federico Ruzza, Alessandro Zanni and Maxime Mbanda all keen to impress.
Italy are looking for revenge after a heavy defeat to the Red Rose earlier this year at Twickenham in the 2019 Guinness Six Nations.
And with their opening two World Cup clashes against Namibia and then Canada, O’Shea will be keen to finish their summer series on a high.
Italy team to take on England on Friday at St James’ Park: 15. Jayden Hayward 14. Mattia Bellini 13. Giulio Bisegni 12. Tommaso Benvenuti 11. Edoardo Padovani 10. Carlo Canna 9. Callum Braley
1. Nicola Quaglio 2. Oliviero Fabiani 3. Simone Ferrari 4. David Sisi 5. Dean Budd (c) 6. Sebastian Negri 7. Abraham Steyn 8. Jimmy Tuivaiti
Replacements: 16. Federico Zani 17. Andrea Lovotti 18. Marco Riccioni 19. Federico Ruzza 20. Alessandro Zanni 21. Maxime Mbanda 22. Guglielmo Palazzani 23. Tommaso Allan