Van Schalkwyk and Steyn among new Italy faces


Andries Van Schalkwyk and Abraham Steyn are among 10 uncapped players included in Jacques Brunel's Italy squad for the upcoming Six Nations.

Van Schalkwyk, who has impressed for Zebre in Pro12 this season, and fellow South Africa-born forward Steyn are among a 30-man squad chosen by head coach Brunel.

Jacopo Sarto, a club-mate of Van Schalkwyk's, is also included and joins his brother Leonardo - who has 23 Italy caps - in the squad.

Among the other new faces in the forwards are props Andrea Lovotti and Matteo Zanusso and hooker Ornel Gega.

Brunel will also have fresh options in the backs, with Edward Padovani selected as one of two fly-halves, while Mattia Bellini, Thomas Castello and David Odiete are also vying for their first appearances.

Italy are contending with several injuries with the likes of Andrea Masi, Luca Morisi, Angelo Esposito and Michele Rizzo all unavailable.

However, forward George Biagi, fly-half Kelly Haimona and centre Giulio Bisegni return to the fold having missed the Rugby World Cup through injury.

"The training we have had during the winter has allowed us to see a large number of players and evaluate alternatives to many injuries," Brunel said.

"We also have some significant returns like Biagi, Bisegni and Haimona, they had a good impact in the last Six Nations before getting injured."

Squad in full:

Forwards: Martin Castrogiovanni, Dario Chistolini, Lorenzo Cittadini, Andrea Lovotti, Matteo Zanusso, Ornel Gega, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Valerio Bernabo, George Biagi, Marco Fuser, Francesco Minto, Sergio Parisse, Jacopo Sarto, Abraham Steyn, Andries van Schalkwyk, Alessandro Zanni

Backs: Edoardo Gori, William Palazzini, Carlo Canna, Edward Padovani, Mattia Bellini, Giulio Bisegni, Michele Campagnaro, Thomas Castello, Gonzalo Garcia, Kelly Haimona, Luke McLean, David Odiete, Andrea Pratichetti, Leonardo Sarto