Italy have traditionally been the whipping boys of Europe. Football is very much a part of Italian culture and with just two top level clubs the player pool is small compared to the likes of England, Ireland and Wales.
Conor O’Shea has helped over the past few years and brought an identity to the national team, a renaissance for Bennetton in Europe and the Pro14 has also helped build Italy into a more cohesive unit. With a very strong under-20’s side too the future is bright for Italy.
vs. Scotland (BT Murrayfield), Sat 2nd February, 14:15
vs. Wales (Stadio Olimpico), Sat 9th February, 16:45
vs. Ireland (Stadio Olimpico), Sun 24th February, 15:00
vs. England (Twickenham Stadium), Sat 9th March, 16:45
vs. France (Stadio Olimpico), Sat 16th March, 12:30
Italy will feel positive about the upcoming Six Nations with favourites Ireland and a resurgent Wales having to travel to Rome.
They also have the France, arguably Italy’s best chance of a victory making the trip to the Italian capital.
This comes off the back of a very difficult November series for the Azzuri as they suffered heavy defeats to New Zealand in Rome and Ireland in Chicago, as well as a slightly narrower loss to a wounded Wallabies. They did however defeat Georgia in Firenze which silenced the clamours for Georgia to be included in Europe’s premier international competition.
Italy also will have taken confidence from one win over Japan in the summer to draw their summer series 1-1.
Italy have four notable omissions in their squad with Gloucester flanker Jake Polledri and exciting fullback Matteo Minnozi both out injured. Dean Budd and Giulio Bisegni were originally named but have been replaced recently by Marco Fuser and Marco Zanon.
Former Bath back rower, David Sisi and centre Marco Zanon come in as the only uncapped players. Sergio Parisse captains the side and he’ll have experienced hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini alongside him.
The only other overseas based player is powerful centre, Michele Campagnaro, he runs hard and tackles hard too.
1 Andrea LOVOTTI 2 Leonardo GHIRALDINI 3 Simone FERRARI 4 Federico RUZZA 5 Marco FUSER 6 Sebastian NEGRI 7 Maxime MBANDA 8 Sergio PARISSE (Captain)
9 Guglielmo PALAZZANI 10 Carlo CANNA 11 Tommaso BENVENUTI 12 Luca MORISI 13 Michele CAMPAGNARO 14 Angelo ESPOSITO 15 Jayden HAYWARD
16 Luca BIGI 17 Cherif TRAORE 18 Tiziano PASQAULI 19 Alessandro ZANNI 20 Braam STEYN 21 Tito TEBALDI 22 Ian MCKINLEY 23 Edoardo PADOVANI