Benetton forwards dominate Italy pack for France clash

Andy Baber
28 August 2019

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Conor O’Shea has called on Benetton’s forward strength for Italy’s penultimate Rugby World Cup warm-up clash against France, making three changes for Friday night’s showdown.

Simone Ferrari, Marco Riccioni and Alessandro Zanni all come into the pack in the only alterations to the Azzurri team which claimed a dominant 85-15 victory over Russia last time out.

The Benetton trio’s inclusion means five of the eight forwards come from the Treviso outfit, with Federico Ruzza and Braam Steyn retaining their places.

O’Shea’s pack is completed by Zebre’s Luca Bigi at hooker, while Toulon’s Sergio Parisse and Jake Polledri of Gloucester also start again after their performances against Russia.

Unsurprisingly, the backline remains identical to the one that lined-up in San Benedetto Del Tronto after running in 13 tries to register Italy’s second highest score.

Benetton’s Jayden Hayward remains at full-back with Matteo Minozzi, who is moving from Zebre to Wasps for the upcoming season, and Mattia Bellini on the wings.

Michele Campagnaro and Benetton’s Luca Morisi team up in midfield while Tito Tebaldi and Tommaso Allan continue their Guinness Six Nations half-back partnership.

Italy will be hoping for revenge against Les Bleus at the Stade de France on Friday after suffering a 25-14 defeat to the hosts at the Stadio Olimpico in the Guinness Six Nations earlier this year.

O’Shea said: “We want to continue from where we left off. The victory against Russia gave us some good points but it is in the past now. Our next objective is France.

“It will be a tough match and very interesting for a number of reasons.

“We want to show our true worth trying to take home a positive result to get ever closer to peak form with regards to the Rugby World Cup.”


Italy XV to face France:

15. Jayden Hayward (Benetton Rugby)
14. Mattia Bellini (Zebre Rugby Club)
13. Michele Campagnaro (Harlequins)
12. Luca Morisi (Benetton Rugby)
11. Matteo Minozzi (Wasps)
10. Tommaso Allan (Benetton Rugby)
9. Tito Tebaldi (Benetton Rugby)
1. Simone Ferrari (Benetton Rugby)
2. Luca Bigi (Zebre Rugby Club)
3. Marco Riccioni (Benetton Rugby)
4. Alessandro Zanni (Benetton Rugby)
5. Federico Ruzza (Benetton Rugby)
6. Braam Steyn (Benetton Rugby)
7. Jake Polledri (Gloucester)
8. Sergio Parisse (Toulon) (c)


16. Federico Zani (Benetton Rugby)
17. Andrea Lovotti (Zebre Rugby Club)
18. Tiziano Pasquali (Benetton Rugby)
19. Dean Budd (Benetton Rugby)
20. Sebastian Negri (Benetton Rugby)
21. Guglielmo Palazzani (Zebre Rugby Club)
22. Carlo Canna (Zebre Rugby Club)
23. Tommaso Benvenuti (Benetton Rugby)

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