Italy v Scotland: Veteran hooker, Welsh scrum-half and uncapped winger in home squad

Hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini could make his first appearance for Italy in more than 20 months in Saturday’s match against Scotland in Florence.

Italy hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini is picked as a substitute against Scotland.
Italy hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini is picked as a substitute against Scotland.

Ghiraldini has been named on the bench for the Autumn Nations Cup opener at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

If the 35-year-old hooker plays, it will be his 105th appearance for Italy but his first since a serious knee injury against France in the 2019 Six Nations. He recovered to be picked for the Rugby World Cup in Japan a year ago, but a planned farewell appearance off the bench in Italy's last pool game against New Zealand was scrubbed when the match was cancelled because of Typhoon Hagibis.

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Italy coach Franco Smith has made two changes to the starting line-up from the 34-5 defeat to England which helped the visitors win the Six Nations. Smith hands a debut to Calvisano wing Jacopo Trulla and a second cap to centre Marco Zanon.

The uncapped Stephen Varney is on the bench. The Gloucester scrum-half was born in Wales but has an Italian mother and has come through Italy’s age-grade sides.

Full-back Matteo Minozzi starts after recovering from a broken nose suffered against England two weeks ago.

The match is live on Amazon Prime Video.

Italy team: Matteo Minozzi, Jacopo Trulla, Marco Zanon, Carlo Canna, Mattia Bellini, Paolo Garbisi, Marcello Violi; Danilo Fischetti, Luca Bigi (captain), Giosue Zilocchi, Marco Lazzaroni, Niccolo Cannone, Sebastian Negri, Braam Steyn, Jake Polledri.

Substititues: Leonardo Ghiraldini, Simone Ferrari, Pietro Ceccarelli, Johan Meyer, Maxime Mbanda, Stephen Varney, Tommaso Allan, Federico Mori.

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