17 Jan 2012

New Italy rugby coach stamps mark on team

6:11 am on 17 January 2012

Frenchman Jacques Brunel wasted no time in stamping his mark on his new role as Italy rugby coach when he named his first squad on ahead of the 2012 Six Nations.

Out went stalwarts such as prop Salvatore Perugini, lock Carlos Del Fava and utility back Mirco Bergamasco while uncapped youngsters Alberto De Marchi, Luca Morisi, Angelo Esposito and Giovambattista Venditti all find themselves part of the 30-man squad.

Italy start their Six Nations campaign away to France on February the 4th at the Stade de France before hosting England at Rome's Stadio Olimpico a week later.

Former Perpignan head coach and France assistant Brunel will reduce his squad to 24 players before leaving for Paris.

And he made several surprise selections, leaving out Mirco Bergamasco and Gonzalo Garcia, both of whom are coming back from injuries, in favour of Monte Parma centre Morisi and wingers Esposito, an academy player, and Venditti, of Aironi.

There was no place either for halfback and utility back Pablo Cannavosio, who went to the World Cup under Nick Mallett but Australian-born Kris Burton was recalled after missing the global event in favour of Riccardo Bocchino, who has been dropped.

The biggest surprise of all perhaps was in the front row where experienced Aironi prop Salvatore Perugini has been overlooked in favour of his young club-mate De Marchi, 25, who was part of the pre-World Cup preparation squad but has never played for Italy.