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Hayward and co keep their places as O’Shea keeps faith ahead of Argentina showdown

Daniel Barnes

16 Nov 2017

Italy have retained the starting XV that got their autumn Test campaign off to a winning start against Fiji for their clash with Argentina.

The Azzurri, who bested Fiji 19-10 in Catania, Sicily, last weekend, renew hostilities with Los Pumas at the Artemio Franchi Stadium in Florence on Saturday (kick-off 2pm) and the Italian squad will be made up almost entirely of players plying their trade in the Guinness PRO14.

More starts for Italian rookies

A number of players still finding their feet in an Italy shirt will continue to learn on the job against Argentina, with Jayden Hayward in line to earn his second cap.

The 30-year-old full-back, who was born in New Zealand, made his debut against Fiji and after scoring more than 300 points for Benetton Rugby since moving to Treviso in 2014, will have the chance to continue his nascent international career.

Hayward’s club teammates Luca Bigi, Dean Budd, Simone Ferrari, as well as Zebre’s Tommaso Boni, Tommaso Castello, Mattia Bellini, Marcello Violi, all also start, having been capped less than six times to date.

McKinley poised to feature again

Benetton fly-half Ian McKinley made his Italy debut against Fiji and kicked his first points in Test rugby with a late penalty.

The Ireland-born 27-year-old, who, after losing sight in his left eye, retired in 2011 only to return to the game, has been rewarded for his standout performances in the Guinness Pro14 so far this season.

He once again is selected as a replacement but could be introduced again against Los Pumas.

O’Shea looks to buck the trend

Anticipating another tough assignment against Argentina, Italy head coach Conor O’Shea has plumped for consistency as his team bids to avoid a seventh straight defeat at the hands of their South American opponents.

The Azzurri last beat Los Pumas in June 2008.

“I know this is a difficult choice for the six players in the squad that have not yet had an opportunity in these November Tests,” he said.

“But after the game in Catania, we wanted to give consistency in the choices made for the game against Fiji, especially for a game such as the one against the Pumas, that will be, in every respect, much more challenging and difficult to deal with.”

Italy team to face Argentina

  1. Jayden Hayward (Benetton) 1 cap
  2. Leonardo Sarto (Glasgow Warriors) 33 caps
  3. Tommaso Boni (Zebre) 6 caps
  4. Tommaso Castello (Zebre) 3 caps
  5. Mattia Bellini (Zebre) 6 caps
  6. Carlo Canna (Zebre) 23 caps
  7. Marcello Violi (Zebre) 6 caps
  8. Andrea Lovotti (Zebre) 18 caps
  9. Luca Bigi (Benetton) 4 caps
  10. Simone Ferrari (Benetton) 6 caps
  11. Marco Fuser (Benetton) 25 caps
  12. Dean Budd (Benetton) 4 caps
  13. Francesco Minto (Benetton) 37 caps
  14. Braam Steyn (Benetton) 15 caps
  15. Sergio Parisse (C) (Stade Francais) 127 caps

Replacements

  1. Leonardo Ghiraldini (Toulouse) 87 caps
  2. Federico Zani (Benetton) 4 caps
  3. Dario Christolini (Zebre) 19 caps
  4. Federico Ruzza (Benetton) 2 caps
  5. Giovanni Licata (Fiamme Oro) 1 cap
  6. Tito Tabldi (Benetton) 22 caps
  7. Ian McKinley (Benetton) 1 cap
  8. Matteo Minozzi (Zebre) 1 cap

Guinness PRO14 Final 2018 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 for adults and €5 for children, and can be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie