Italy select Haimona, Vunisa

Date published: October 8 2014

New Zealand-born Kelly Haimona and Fijian Samuela Vunisa are among three uncapped players named in Jacques Brunel’s Italy squad.

New Zealand-born Kelly Haimona and Fijian Samuela Vunisa are among three uncapped players named in the 30-man Italy squad by Jacques Brunel.

Wednesday’s announcement comes ahead of the Azzurri‘s upcoming internationals against Samoa, Argentina and South Africa during November.

Centre Haimona (Zebre) and number eight Vunisa, who also plays for the Italian side, join wing Simone Ragusi (Treviso) in making the cut.

Italy host Samoa in Ascoli on November 8 and Argentina in Genoa a week later, with a much-anticipated clash with the Boks on November 22.

Haimona was born in Rotorua and had spells with Bay of Plenty and Whakarewarewa while Vunisa turned out for New Zealand sides Taranaki and Wanganui College along with Fiji’s age groups.

Arguably the most significant news for Italy, however, is the return of a handful of players recently absent from the squad through injury -Francesco Minto, Luca Morisi and flanker Simone Favaro, scrum-half Edoardo Gori and centre Luca Morisi.

Brunel will also welcome back veterans Martin Castrogiovanni and Sergio Parisse after they were excused from duty ahead of a disastrous June tour of the Pacific, during which Italy lost to Fiji, Samoa and Japan.

Both prop Castrogiovanni and number eight Parisse share the Italian record of 105 caps.

Zebre winger Giulio Toniolatti, meanwhile, is recalled following a two-year absence following an impressive season in the PRO12.

Italy’s 30-man squad for November

Backs (14): Andrea Masi, Luke McLean, Angelo Esposito, Simone Ragusi, Leonardo Sarto, Giulio Toniolatti, Michele Campagnaro, Gonzalo Garcia, Kelly Haimona, Luca Morisi, Tommaso Allan, Luciano Orquera, Edoardo Gori, Guglielmo Palazzani.

Forwards (16): Robert Barbieri, Simone Favaro, Francesco Minto, Sergio Parisse, Samuela Vunisa, Alessandro Zanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Andrea Manici, Fabio Biagi, Marco Bortolami, Joshua Furno, Quintin Geldenhuys, Matias Aguero, Dario Chistolini, Martin Castrogiovanni, Alberto De Marchi.