Sergio Parisse will lead Italy once again as part of Jacques Brunel’s 30-man squad for the Six Nations which will start against Ireland.
The Azzurri finished last in 2014, losing all their games, but were victorious the last time they played Ireland on home soil.
Parisse is one of three French-based players, along with Perpignan’s Tommaso Allan and Toulon’s Martin Castrogiovanni, while there are six English-based players.
Pro12 basement side Zebre dominate the squad, with 13 players, while Treviso provide a further seven.
Four uncapped players are named in the Italian squad: 22-year-old centre Giulio Bisegni and 23-year-old winger Michele Visentin, both from Zebre, are the newcomers alongside with Benetton Treviso’s utility back Simone Ragusi – who was part of November’s squad but didn’t win a cap – and 21-year-old scrum-half Marcello Violi, the only player from the Italian domestic championship Eccellenza to be called-up.
Violi, who’s playing his club rugby for reigning Italian champions Cammi Calvisano, was recently selected as a permit player by Zebre, coming off the bench at Parc y Scarlets as a replacement for former All Black Brendan Leonard in the second half.
Brunel has named an experienced squad, with the likes of Castriogiovanni joined by Leonardo Ghiraldini and Marco Bortolami in the pack.
The backs are a little younger, although there is still room for Andrea Masi and Luke McLean, while breakout stars from last year’s tournament, Michele Campagnaro and Leonardo Sarto are also included.
Italy squad for the Six Nations:
Forwards: Matias Aguero (Zebre), Martin Castrogiovanni (Toulon), Dario Chistolini (Zebre), Alessandro De Marchi (Sale), Leonardo Ghiraldini (Leicester), Andrea Manici (Zebre), George Biagi (Zebre), Marco Bortolami (Zebre), Joshua Furno (Newcastle), Quintin Geldenhuys (Zebre), Robert Barbieri (Leicester), Mauro Bergamasco (Zebre), Simone Favaro (Treviso), Francesco Minto (Treviso), Sergio Parisse (c) (Stade Fran