Smith names four uncapped players in Italy squad

A quartet of uncapped players are included in Italy’s squad for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations, with head coach Franco Smith naming a 32-man group for the Championship.

A quartet of uncapped players are included in Italy’s squad for the upcoming Guinness Six Nations, with head coach Franco Smith naming a 32-man group for the Championship.

Zebre front-rowers Daniele Rimpelli and Marco Manfredi get the nod, as does Mogliano lock Riccardo Favretto, with Benetton centre Juan Ignacio Brex the only new face among the backs.

Hooker Luca Bigi will captain an Azzurri squad relatively short of international experience, with fly-half Tommaso Allan the only player with at least 50 caps to his name and just three other men (Bigi, Guglielmo Palazzani and Carlo Canna) having passed the 30-cap barrier.

Italy begin their campaign at home to France in the very first match of the Championship on Saturday February 6, looking to emulate the exploits of 2011 and 2013, when they beat Les Bleus in Rome.

The squad are set to meet up for the first time this Thursday, although a quintet of players – Allan, Brex, Callum Braley, Marco Riccioni and Federico Ruzza – will be available for Benetton’s Guinness PRO14 clash with Munster on Saturday before joining the group on Sunday.

“The two meetings [between Benetton and Zebre in the PRO14] in Parma and Treviso gave us useful information to help start camp in the best possible way to prepare for the 2021 Guinness Six Nations,” said Smith.

“We have a united and strong group that will help integrate the new players who have already had the chance to savour the atmosphere of our camps.

“From Sunday, with the arrival of the players released to Benetton, the squad will be complete and we will continue preparing for the match against France.”

In addition to his 32-man squad for the Championship itself, five further players have been invited to camp by Smith as part of widening the available roster for international activity.

Among these are scrum-half Marcello Violi, who will continue his recovery from injury, and uncapped duo Michelangelo Biondelli and Tommaso Menoncello.

Italy squad for the 2021 Guinness Six Nations:

Forwards Pietro Ceccarelli (Brive, 14 caps) Danilo Fischetti (Zebre Rugby Club, 8 caps) Marco Riccioni (Benetton Rugby, 7 caps) Daniele Rimpelli (Zebre Rugby Club, uncapped) Cherif Traore (Benetton Rugby, 10 caps) Giosuè Zilocchi (Zebre Rugby Club, 10 caps) Luca Bigi (Zebre Rugby Club, 32 caps) – CAPTAIN Gianmarco Lucchesi (Benetton Rugby, 2 caps) Marco Manfredi (Zebre Rugby Club, uncapped) Niccolò Cannone (Benetton Rugby, 8 caps) Riccardo Favretto (Mogliano Rugby 1969, uncapped) Marco Lazzaroni (Benetton Rugby, 11 caps) David Sisi (Zebre Rugby Club, 11 caps) Cristian Stoian (Fiamme Oro Rugby, 2 caps) Michele Lamaro (Benetton Rugby, 2 caps) Maxime Mbanda (Zebre Rugby Club, 25 caps) Johan Meyer (Zebre Rugby Club, 9 caps) Sebastian Negri (Benetton Rugby, 28 caps) Federico Ruzza (Benetton Rugby, 19 caps)

Backs Callum Braley (Benetton Rugby, 9 caps) Guglielmo Palazzani (Zebre Rugby Club, 41 caps) Stephen Varney (Gloucester Rugby, 3 caps) Tommaso Allan (Benetton Rugby, 60 caps) Carlo Canna (Zebre Rugby Club, 47 caps) Paolo Garbisi (Benetton Rugby, 5 caps) Mattia Bellini (Zebre Rugby Club, 28 caps) Juan Ignacio Brex (Benetton Rugby, uncapped) Monty Ioane (Benetton Rugby, 1 cap) Federico Mori (Kawasaki Robot Calvisano, 5 caps) Luca Sperandio (Benetton Rugby, 6 caps) Jacopo Trulla (Kawasaki Robot Calvisano, 3 caps) Marco Zanon (Benetton Rugby, 4 caps)

Additional invited players Michelangelo Biondelli (Zebre Rugby Club, uncapped) Tommaso Boni (Zebre Rugby Club, 11 caps) Renato Giammarioli (Zebre Rugby Club, 4 caps) Tommaso Menoncello (Benetton Rugby, uncapped) Marcello Violi (Zebre Rugby Club, 19 caps)