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Orquera and Parisse are two of five players from the Americas
Italian headcoach Jacques Brunel has named a squad of thirty players for the upcoming 2014 Six Nations championship. The squad features sixteen forwards and fourteen backs and includes the notable return of the 89 time capped goal kicking winger Mirco Bergamasco. Also selected are four players from Argentina and one from Canada.
The inclusion of Mirco Bergamasco comes as a minor surprise. Since fracturing his knee cap against Australia in November 2012 he has played very little and is no longer contracted to Top 14 club Racing Métro. Instead he is now based in Italy but rather than playing for Rabo Direct Pro 12 sides Benetton Treviso or Zebre his club is Vez-Femi CZ Rovigo in the Campionato Nazionale Eccellenza.
Mirco Bergamasco is selected based on reputation and his goalkicking but also due to other needs as winger Giovambattista and fullback Andrea Masi are both injured. Without them Italy will be stretched with as two of the other players selected in the back-three are uncapped. Treviso´s Angelo Esposito and Zebre´s Guglielmo Palazzani could debut while Leonardo Sarto has only played two test matches and Tommaso Iannone of Zebre has been capped six times. In other words Bergamasco joins the 52 time capped Luke McLean as the only back-three player with seven or more caps.
There cannot be said to be a lack of international experience in any other position which underlines the argument that Italy is likely to be up against superior wingers when it faces Canada at Rugby World Cup 2015. In other back positions Italy has more depth with the only newcomers to the Six Nations being Michele Campagnaro and Tommaso Allan with five caps between them.
Up front it is very much a squad with experience to burn. Mirco Bergamasco´s brother Mauro could join the Argentine pair of Sergio Parisse, Martín Castrogiovanni in being capped 100 times. He will enter the tournament with 95 test caps while second-rower and former captain Marco Bortolami, should he start, will earn his 100th cap in Italy´s tournament opener against Wales in Cardiff.
Both Parisse and Castrogiovanni are likely to play all five matches as is Robert Barbieri from Toronto. The Canadian is the third most capped back-rower with 32 caps after Bergamasco and Alessandro Zanni. Whilst there are no new comers in the back-row it is nonetheless a position influenced by injury as Simone Favaro and Manoa Vosawai are unavailable. Others missing due to injury include Argentina´s Gonzalo Canale in addition to Andrea Manici, Francesco Minto, Luca Morisi and Tito Tebaldi.
Despite Canale´s non-availability there are nontheless four Argentine players in the squad with Martín Castrogiovanni and Sergio Parisse, being joined by fly half Luciano Orquera and centre Gonzalo García. Parisse will captain the team as one of five players who play their rugby outside of Italy.
Martin Castrogiovanni (Toulon, France)
Lorenzo Cittadini (Benetton Treviso)
Alberto de Marchi (Benetton Treviso)
Michele Rizzo (Benetton Treviso)
Leonardo Ghiraldini (Benetton Treviso)
Davide Giazzon (Zebre)
Marco Bortolami (Zebre)
Joshua Furno (Biarritz, France)
Marco Fuser (Benetton Treviso)
Quintin Geldenhuys (Zebre)
Antonio Pavanello (Benetton Treviso)
Robert Barbieri (Benetton Treviso)
Mauro Bergamasco (Zebre Rugby)
Paul Derbyshire (Benetton Treviso)
Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais, France)
Alessandro Zanni (Benetton Treviso)
Edoardo Gori (Benetton Treviso)
Tobias Botes (Benetton Treviso)
Tommaso Allan (Perpignan, France)
Luciano Orquera (Zebre)
Tommaso Benvenuti (Perpignan, France)
Michele Campagnaro (Benetton Treviso)
Gonzalo Garcia (Zebre)
Alberto Sgarbi (Benetton Treviso)
Mirco Bergamasco (Vea-FemiCZ Rovigo)
Angelo Esposito (Benetton Treviso)
Tommaso Iannone (Zebre)
Luke McLean (Benetton Treviso)
Guglielmo Palazzani (Zebre)
Leonardo Sarto (Zebre)