Azzurri call up Gloucester star
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Stephen Varney will make his first start for Italy since the Six Nations after being named in the XV set to take on Samoa in a year-end Test this weekend.
Gloucester scrumhalf Varney missed the final two rounds of this year’s Six Nations, including the Azzurri’s last-gasp win over Wales, and three mid-year Tests with injury.
He lines up alongside Montpellier flyhalf Paolo Garbisi for Saturday’s match in Padua, one of nine changes to the team which lost to Georgia in July.
At No.8 coach Kieran Crowley has handed a debut international cap to Benetton’s Lorenzo Cannone, the younger brother of second row Nicolo Cannone.
Crowley’s side will also take on Australia and South Africa as part of the series of Test matches.
Italy: 15 Tommaso Allan, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Luca Morisi, 11 Montanna Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Stephen Varney, 8 Lorenzo Cannone, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Manuel Zuliani, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 David Sisi, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Ivan Nemer, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Niccolo Cannone, 20 Toa Halafihi, 21 Manfredi Albanese, 22 Enrico Lucchin, 23 Tommaso Menoncello.
Date: Saturday, November 5
Venue: Stadio Plebiscito, Padua
Kick-off: 14.00 (13.00 GMT, 02.00, Sunday, November 6 Samoan time)
Referee: Christophe Ridley (England)
Assistant referees: Luke Pearce (England), Katlil Harrison (United States)
TMO: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)