Italy omit Parisse, recall Sgarbi for Six Nations
SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Italy legend Sergio Parisse was not named in the 35-man squad unveiled on Monday for the Six Nations tournament with Alberto Sgarbi recalled after six years and three newcomers included.
Parisse, 36, had planned to retire after the Rugby World Cup but was denied a farewell appearance when Italy’s final pool match against New Zealand was cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis.
Despite his omission the talismanic No.8 with an Italian record of 142 caps is still expected for a farewell match in the Six Nations against either Scotland (February 22) or England (March 14) in the Stadio Olimpico.
“I will face Scotland, England or both, but I will certainly not play the entire Six Nations,” Parisse said.
New Italy coach Franco Smith has recalled 33-year-old Benetton centre Sgarbi, who has not played since June 2014, in a team largely made up of players from Italian Pro 14 sides Zebre and Benetton Treviso.
Smith has included Zebre prop Danilo Fischetti, who was called up for the World Cup but did not play because of the Typhoon, along with Benetton lock Niccolo Cannone and Zebre fullback Michelangelo Biondelli.
“We have a mixed of experienced players and youngsters who want to establish themselves on the international stage,” said Smith, who was appointed interim coach after Irishman Conor O’Shea resigned last November after the World Cup.
“Everyone’s contributions will be crucial from the start to prepare the opening game of a Championship which gets more competitive and compelling all the time.”
Italy open their Six Nations campaign against champions Wales on February 1 in Cardiff.
The last Italian victory in the tournament was against Scotland in Edinburgh in February 2015, while at home the Azzurri have not won since March 2013, when they beat Ireland in Rome.
The Italy squad will meet in Rome for a training camp between January 19 and 26.
Forwards: Pietro Ceccarelli (Edinburgh/SCO), Danilo Fischetti (Zebre), Andrea Lovotti (Zebre), Marco Riccioni (Benetton), Giosue Zilocchi (Zebre), Luca Bigi (Zebre), Oliviero Fabiani (Zebre), Federico Zani (Benetton), Dean Budd (Benetton), Niccolo Cannone (Argos Petrarca Rugby/Benetton), Federico Ruzza (Benetton), David Sisi (Zebre), Alessandro Zanni (Benetton), Marco Lazzaroni (Benetton), Giovanni Licata (Zebre), Johan Meyer (Zebre), Sebastian Negri (Benetton), Jake Polledri (Gloucester/ENG), Abraham Steyn (Benetton).
Backs: Callum Braley (Gloucester/ENG), Guglielmo Palazzani (Zebre), Marcello Violi (Zebre), Tommaso Allan (Benetton), Carlo Canna (Zebre), Giulio Bisegni (Zebre), Tommaso Boni (Zebre), Luca Morisi (Benetton), Alberto Sgarbi (Benetton), Mattia Bellini (Zebre), Tommaso Benvenuti (Benetton), Michelangelo Biondelli (Fiamme Oro Rugby/Zebre), Jayden Hayward (Benetton), Matteo Minozzi (Wasps/ENG), Edoardo Padovani (Zebre), Leonardo Sarto (Benetton).
— Italrugby (@Federugby) January 13, 2020