Ex-Puma Brex set for Italy debut against France in Six Nations

Rome (AFP) –


Argentina-born centre Ignacio Brex will win his first cap for Italy after being named Thursday in their Six Nations opener against France in Rome.

The 28-year-old Treviso player, who represented Argentina for two years until 2015, will line up alongside club teammate Marco Zanon.

Coach Franco Smith also gave a first start to number eight Michele Lamaro, who has two caps and will play alongside Johan Meyer and Sebastian Negri.

Gloucester scrum-half Stephen Varney and Treviso fly-half Paolo Garbisi return to a squad which has an average of just 20.

"We follow our growth process by continuing to introduce new generations," said South African Smith.

David Sisi and Marco Lazzaroni form the second row behind Cherif Traore and Marco Riccioni, both returning from injury.

However, Zebre wing Mattia Bellini was not been called up after taking a knock in training on Tuesday.

Italy team to play France in the Six Nations international at the Olympic Stadium in Rome on Saturday (1415 GMT):

Italy (15-1)

Jacopo Trulla; Luca Sperandio, Marco Zanon, Ignacio Brex, Montanna Ioane; Paolo Garbisi, Stephen Varney; Michele Lamaro, Johan Meyer, Sebastian Negri; David Sisi, Marco Lazzaroni; Marco Riccioni, Luca Bigi (capt), Cherif Traore

Replacements: Gianmarco Lucchesi, Danilo Fischetti, Giosue Zilocchi, Niccolo Cannone, Federico Ruzza, Maxime Mbanda, Guglielmo Palazzani, Carlo Canna

Coach: Franco Smith (RSA)