Italy's Minozzi back to face All Blacks
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: New Italy coach Kieran Crowley recalled Matteo Minozzi to the starting line-up for Saturday’s Test with New Zealand after the Wasps wing missed this year’s Six Nations.
Minozzi, who has scored 11 tries in 22 internationals, pulled out of the squad for the tournament earlier this year due to mental health worries about having to stay in a bubble.
Crowley will coach the Azzurri for the first time against the country of his birth.
Flank Michele Lamaro leads the side for the first match with former skipper Luca Bigi on the bench.
Treviso’s 23-year-old prop Ivan Nemer is set to make his Italy debut off the bench after playing just 21 senior club games.
South African-born loose forward Braam Steyn joins Nemer among the replacements after last featuring for the Azzurri in December due to injury.
Italy host Argentina next weekend before welcoming Uruguay after facing the All Blacks, against whom they have conceded 227 points in their last five meetings.
“They play such impressive rugby, they are the best in the world… What can this match bring us?” Crowley said.
“We can measure where we are and what we need to do to progress. It’s not ideal as a first match, but that’s how it is,” he added.
Italy: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Federico Mori, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Marco Zanon, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Stephen Varney, 8 Renato Giammariolo, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Sebastian Negri, 4 David Sisi, 4 Marco Fuser, 3 Marco Riccioni, 2 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Ivan Nemer, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Niccolo Cannone, 20 Federico Ruzza, 21 Braam Steyn, 22 Callum Braley, 23 Carlo Canna.
Date: Saturday, November 6
Venue: Stadium Olimpico, Rome
Kick-off: 14.00 (13.00 GMT; 02.00 NZ time Sunday, November 7)
Referee: Karl Dickson (England)
Assistant referees: Mike Adamson (Scotland), Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
TMO: Tom Foley (England)