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Brunel names Italy squad for Six Nations
Justin Davis
06:39 AEST Fri Jan 11 2013

Italy rugby coach Jacques Brunel called on the Azzurri to build on their promising November campaign as he named his 30-man squad for the Six Nations on Thursday.

Italy kick off their campaign by hosting 2011 World Cup finalists France at the Olympic Stadium on February 3, and have two other home games, against Wales on February 23 and Ireland on March 16.

The Azzurri, who recently came close to securing an historic draw against Australia in the November Tests, also play Scotland and England away.

Brunel has already taken Italy into the top ten of the IRB rankings - a feat that former coach Nick Mallett did not achieve in his four-year tenure.

Now the Frenchman wants his side to achieve their full potential by starting to believe they can challenge the very best.

"One of the biggest challenges I have is convincing the players of their own ability and potential to challenge the best," Brunel told AFP.

"We still have a lot of things to improve. But a lot of it comes down to the ambition you have, the spirit you show and how you show it.

"We are looking more to impose our game on our opponents than simply oppose them."

While keeping faith with the bulk of the squad which beat Tonga and showed glimpses of brilliance against both New Zealand and the Wallabies in November, Brunel has called up a number of emerging younger players.

Benetton Treviso winger Tommaso Iannone and teammate Francesco Minto, who is a backrower, both return to the squad following promising performances in November.

Prop Alberto de Marchi has been handed the chance for only his fifth cap while Australia-born Narbonne lock Joshua Furno gets the chance for only his seventh.

Zebre flanker Paolo Buso, who has only one cap so far, is also included.

Paul Derbyshire, meanwhile, has been called in from the international wilderness. The flanker, who plays club rugby for Benetton Treviso, last played for Italy against Ireland in the 2011 World Cup.

Italy squad

Backs

Tommaso Benvenuti, Tobias Botes, Kristopher Burton, Paolo Buso, Gonzalo Canale, Gonzalo Garcia, Edoardo Gori, Tommaso Iannone, Andrea Masi, Luke McLean, Luciano Orquera, Alberto Sgarbi, Giovanbattista Venditti

Forwards

Roberto Barbieri, Martin Castrogiovanni, Lorenzo Cittadini, Alberto De Marchi, Paul Derbyshire, Simone Favaro, Joshua Furno, Quintin Geldenhuys, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Davide Giazzon, Andrea Lo Cicero, Francesco Minto, Sergio Parisse, Antonio Pavanello, Michele Rizzo, Ratu Manoa Vosawai, Alessandro Zanni