Italy head coach Kieran Crowley has named his first Azzurri squad of the year ahead of the 2023 Six Nations, with Paolo Garbisi missing out through injury while Jake Polledri and Matteo Minozzi return.
The 34-man squad features four uncapped players and will meet in Verona for a five-day camp between January 22 and 24.
Italy kick off their Six Nations campaign against France on February 5 in Rome.
Garbisi is set to miss the opening three rounds after he sprained an internal ligament in his right knee during a Top 14 match for Montpellier.
He is not the only fly-half sidelined, with Benetton’s Leonardo Marin also missing out on the squad.
Tommy Allan has been named in the group, despite being stretchered off the pitch in Harlequins’ loss to Sale Sharks after sustaining a head knock. He may recover in time to feature in the opening matches.
Giacomo Da Re is the only other fly-half in the squad. Although he is expected to be fit for the Championship, he only recently returned to full fitness after a lengthy injury layoff. He made his Test debut for Italy against Portugal last July.
There is some positive news for Crowley as powerhouse flanker Polledri returns to the Azzurri squad having last played for Italy during the Autumn Nations Cup in 2021.
He is joined in the squad by fellow returnee Minozzi who has also endured his fair share of injury setbacks but has been firing for Benetton since joining the side from Wasps.
Fresh faces up front
Flanker Michele Lamaro will captain the side again, with four uncapped players in line to make their Test debuts.
All four uncapped players come from the front-row with Zebre props Matteo Nocera and Luca Rizzoli in contention for their first caps along with Petrarca prop Mirco Spanish.
Zebre hooker Marco Manfredi is also in line for a maiden appearance.
Commenting on the squad, Crowley said that Italy would look to build on their success of 2022, after earning respect and credibility.
“We can’t wait to take the field in the Six Nations. Over the last year we have worked hard to develop an identity as a team and earn respect and credibility,” Crowley said.
“We have some new players and some returning players and this tournament will give us all the opportunity to continue building on that foundation we have created.”
Italy host the defending champions, France, at the Stadio Olimpico in their first match before heading to Twickenham to tackle England. The squad for those two encounters will be finalised after the camp in Verona.
Italy squad for the 2023 Six Nations:
Forwards: Pietro Ceccarelli (Brive), Simone Ferrari (Benetton Rugby), Danilo Fischetti (London Irish), Matteo Nocera (Zebre Parma), Marco Riccioni (Saracens), Luca Rizzoli (Zebre Parma), Mirco Spagnolo (Petrarca Rugby), Federico Zani (Benetton Rugby), Luca Bigi (Zebre Parma), Marco Manfredi (Zebre Parma), Giacomo Nicotera (Benetton Rugby), Niccolò Cannon (Benetton Rugby), Marco Fuser (Massy), Federico Ruzza (Benetton Rugby), Andrea Zambonin (Zebre Parma), Lorenzo Cannon (Benetton Rugby), Michele Lamaro (Benetton Rugby), Sebastian Negri (Benetton Rugby), Giovanni Pettinelli (Benetton Rugby), Jake Polledri (Gloucester Rugby), Manuel Zuliani (Benetton Rugby)
Backs: Alessandro Garbisi (Benetton Rugby), Stephen Varney (Gloucester), Alessandro Fusco (Zebre Parma), Tommaso Allan (Harlequins), Giacomo Da Re (Benetton Rugby), Juan Ignacio Brex (Benetton Rugby), Enrico Lucchin (Zebre Parma), Tommaso Menoncello (Benetton Rugby), Luca Morisi (London Irish), Pierre Bruno (Zebre Parma), Ange Capuozzo (Stade Toulousain), Matteo Minozzi (Benetton Rugby), Edoardo Padovani (Benetton Rugby)
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The article Six Nations: Paolo Garbisi omitted from Italy squad, Jake Polledri and Matteo Minozzi return appeared first on Planetrugby.com.