18 Benetton players called into Italy Six Nations training squad

09 January 2019

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Benetton’s rise in the Guinness PRO14 has been recognised as they make up the bulk of the Italy squad for their 2019 Six Nations training camp later this month.

National team head coach Conor O’Shea has named 18 players from the club, who are currently tied for points with Edinburgh in second place in Conference B, in his squad.

It follows a 20-17 victory over Glasgow Warriors this weekend, with try-scorers Braam Steyn and Dean Budd amongst those picked in the forwards.

The squad also includes Marco Barbini and Angelo Esposito making their comeback in the international fold after catching the eye of O’Shea with their performances for Kieran Crowley’s side.

Barbini, a back-rower, made his last appearance for the Azzurri in 2015, while Angelo Esposito missed the autumn series due to injury.

The training camp will take place in Rome at the “Giulio Onesti” Olympic Committee Preparation Center from January 20 to 23, with 31 players named.

Ten Zebre players have been called up with flanker Maxime Mbandà finally making his return after being plagued by injuries and fellow forward David Sisi, the only uncapped player in the squad, winning his first-ever call with the Azzurri.

Black-and-white forwards George Biagi, Johan Meyer and Oliviero Fabiani, all of them part of the autumn series squad, have not been called up for the camp and have made available for the Zebre’s Guinness PRO14 South African trip to face the Toyota Cheetahs on January 26.

O’Shea said: “As ever there have been some difficult selection decisions but we are looking forward to getting the group back together and continuing to work towards not just been competitive but winning at the highest level.

“The Six Nations this year has probably never seen so many squads operating at the very highest level.

“We know the challenge but also know when we get our levels to where they need to be we can be more than just competitive but we need to work even harder now to ensure the big moments in these matches go our way.

“We have played and beaten teams like Fiji, Japan and Georgia over the past 18 months but have not been able to get the victory against the top tier teams that will really springboard what we are doing in Italian Rugby and also lift the confidence to go to the next level.

“We are working and will continue to work and play with an ambition to achieve the goals we all have for Italian Rugby.”

Italian squad:


Simone Ferrari (Benetton Rugby, 17 caps)

Andrea Lovotti (Zebre Rugby Club, 30 caps)

Tiziano Pasquali (Benetton Rugby, 13 caps)

Cherif Traore (Benetton Rugby, 5 caps)

Giosuè Zilocchi (Zebre Rugby Club, 2 caps)


Luca Bigi (Benetton Rugby, 15 caps)

Leonardo Ghiraldini (Stade Toulousian, 99 caps)


Dean Budd (Benetton Rugby, 16 caps)

Federico Ruzza (Benetton Rugby, 7 caps)

David Sisi (Zebre Rugby Club, esordiente)

Alessandro Zanni (Benetton Rugby, 109 caps)

Flankers/No .8s

Marco Barbini (Benetton Rugby, 2 caps)

Maxime Mbanda (Zebre Rugby Club, 15 caps)

Sebastian Negri (Benetton Rugby, 12 caps)

Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais, 134 caps) – captain

Abraham Jurgens Steyn (Benetton Rugby, 25 caps)

Jimmy Tuivaiti (Zebre Rugby Club, 1 cap)


Guglielmo Palazzani (Zebre Rugby Club, 28 caps)

Tito Tebaldi (Benetton Rugby, 29 caps)


Tommaso Allan (Benetton Rugby, 43 caps)

Carlo Canna (Zebre Rugby Club, 32 caps)

Ian McKinley (Benetton Rugby, 4 caps)


Giulio Bisegni (Zebre Rugby Club, 11 caps)

Michele Campagnaro (Wasps, 38 caps)

Tommaso Castello (Zebre Rugby Club, 15 caps)

Luca Morisi (Benetton Rugby, 20 caps)


Tommaso Benvenuti (Benetton Rugby, 55 caps)

Angelo Esposito (Benetton Rugby, 15 caps)

Jayden Hayward (Benetton Rugby, 12 caps)

Edoardo Padovani (Zebre Rugby Club, 15 caps)

Luca Sperandio (Benetton Rugby, 5 caps)

Not considered due to injury: Mattia Bellini (Zebre Rugby Club), Ornel Gega (Benetton Rugby), Renato Giammarioli (Zebre Rugby Club), Matteo Minozzi (Zebre Rugby Club), Jake Polledri (Gloucester), Marcello Violi (Zebre Rugby Club), Federico Zani (Benetton Rugby)

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