Guinness PRO14 stars dominate Italy’s XV

Joe Leavey
31 January 2019

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Conor O’Shea has named an Italy XV dominated by Guinness PRO14 stars for the Azzurri’s Guinness Six Nations opener against Scotland on Saturday.

Twelve of the starting line-up ply their trade at either Benetton Rugby or Zebre, with all eight replacements taking that total up to 20 of the matchday 23.

Leading the way are the bulk of a Benetton side who have helped the Treviso outfit up to a heady second place in Conference B.

Kieran Crowley’s side are currently enjoying a run of five matches without defeat, and their impressive form has unsurprisingly translated into a slew of international call-ups, with nine Benetton men making Italy’s starting XV.

Tommaso Allan and Tito Tebaldi comprise the half-back pair, with another three Benetton backs in the shape of Jayden Hayward, Angelo Esposito and Luca Morisi demonstrating O’Shea’s preference for pairing domestic teammates who know their games inside out.

In the pack, Benetton skipper Dean Budd starts at lock, with Simone Ferrari ahead of him at prop, and Sebastian Negri and Abraham Steyn the flankers, while Luca Bigi, Cherif Traore, Tiziano Pasquali, Federico Ruzza and Ian McKinley will all look to offer able support from the bench.

From Zebre, David Sisi is set to make his Azzurri debut on the big stage, alongside Budd at second row.

Joining him in the pack is Andrea Lovotti at prop, while in the backs Tommaso Castello starts at inside centre, with Jimmy Tuivaiti, Guglielmo Palazzani and Edoardo Padovani all among the replacements.

Italy team to face Scotland at BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh – 2:15pm, Saturday 2 February:

15. Jayden Hayward (Benetton Rugby)
14. Angelo Esposito (Benetton Rugby)
13. Luca Morisi (Benetton Rugby)
12. Tommaso Castello (Zebre Rugby)
11. Michele Campagnaro (Wasps)
10. Tommaso Allan (Benetton Rugby)
9. Tito Tebaldi (Benetton Rugby)

1. Andrea Lovotti (Zebre Rugby)
2. Leonardo Ghiraldini (Toulouse)
3. Simone Ferrari (Benetton Rugby)
4. David Sisi (Zebre Rugby)
5. Dean Budd (Benetton Rugby)
6. Sebastian Negri (Benetton Rugby)
7. Abraham Steyn (Benetton Rugby)
8. Sergio Parisse (C) (Stade Francais)

Replacements

16. Luca Bigi (Benetton Rugby)
17. Cherif Traore (Benetton Rugby)
18. Tiziano Pasquali (Benetton Rugby)
19. Federico Ruzza (Benetton Rugby)
20. Jimmy Tuivaiti (Zebre Rugby)
21. Guglielmo Palazzani (Zebre Rugby)
22. Ian McKinley (Benetton Rugby)
23. Edoardo Padovani (Zebre Rugby)

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