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Varney back to face Wales in Round 4

Stephen Varney in action against Wales in the Autumn Nations Cup

Varney back to face Wales in Round 4

Stephen Varney has already beaten Wales at U18 and Under 20 level and now the Welsh-speaking teenager is hoping to make it a hat-trick by helping Italy halt Wayne Pivac side’s march to a potential 13th Grand Slam.

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The Carmarthen-born scrum half, who learned his rugby at Crymych RFC, has already won five senior caps for the Azzurri and made his first start for the senior Italian side against Wales at Parc Y Scarlets in the Autumn Nations Cup.

He started against both France and England in the Guinness Six Nations tournament this year, but was ruled out of the round three clash with Ireland when he dislocated a finger in the warm up. Now he is fit to resume next week when Wales head to Rome seeking to maintain their unbeaten run.

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Varney is joined by Marcello Violi who has impressed since his return to action with Zebre, while Daniele Rimpelli is recalled with Cherif Traorè ruled out through injury. Head coach Franco Smith is hoping his side can find a way to not only halt Wales, but also end a run of 30 successive defeats in the tournament.

Their last victory came on 28 February, 2015, at Murrayfield when they beat Scotland 22-19. Varney, who qualifies to play for Italy via his Italian mother, Valeria, was only 14 at the time.

“We start again focusing on ourselves. These defeats, which do not reflect the quantity and quality of work put in during training, must serve as motivation for us to learn from our errors and spur us to react,” said Smith.

“We continue on our journey to becoming more competitive. We have before us two important matches, two opportunities to show our true value and finishing off the Championship in the best possible way.”

As well as Violi, Marco Zanon is also back in the squad, having started the opening game against France before missing the games with England and Ireland. Edoardo Padovani is also recalled to provide some experience in a young group of outside backs.

Italian Squad

Props
Pietro Ceccarelli (Brive, 14 Caps)
Danilo Fischetti (Zebre Rugby Club, 10 Caps)
Andrea Lovotti (Zebre Rugby Club, 45 Caps)
Marco Riccioni (Benetton Rugby, 10 Caps)
Daniele Rimpelli (Zebre Rugby Club, 1 Cap)
Giosuè Zilocchi (Zebre Rugby Club, 12 Caps)

Hookers
Luca Bigi (Zebre Rugby Club, 35 Caps) – Captain
Gianmarco Lucchesi (Benetton Rugby, 5 Caps)
Marco Manfredi (Zebre Rugby Club, Uncapped)

Second Row
Niccolò Cannone (Benetton Rugby, 11 Caps)
Riccardo Favretto (Mogliano Rugby 1969, Uncapped)
Marco Lazzaroni (Benetton Rugby, 14 Caps)
David Sisi (Zebre Rugby Club, 14 Caps)

Back Row
Michele Lamaro (Benetton Rugby, 4 Caps)
Maxime Mbanda’ (Zebre Rugby Club, 26 Caps)
Johan Meyer (Zebre Rugby Club, 11 Caps)
Sebastian Negri (Benetton Rugby, 30 Caps)
Federico Ruzza (Benetton Rugby, 21 Caps)

Scrum-Halves
Callum Braley (Benetton Rugby, 10 Caps)
Stephen Varney (Gloucester Rugby, 5 Caps)
Marcello Violi (Zebre Rugby Club, 19 Caps)

Outside Halves
Tommaso Allan (Benetton Rugby, 61 Caps)
Carlo Canna (Zebre Rugby Club, 50 Caps)
Paolo Garbisi (Benetton Rugby, 8 Caps)

Outside Backs
Mattia Bellini (Zebre Rugby Club, 29 Caps)
Juan Ignacio Brex (Benetton Rugby, 3 Caps)
Montanna Ioane (Benetton Rugby, 4 Caps)
Federico Mori (Kawasaki Robot Calvisano, 7 Caps)
Edoardo Padovani (Benetton Rugby, 26 Caps)
Luca Sperandio (Benetton Rugby, 11 Caps)
Jacopo Trulla (Kawasaki Robot Calvisano, 6 Caps)
Marco Zanon (Benetton Rugby, 5 Caps)

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