Mallett names Aussie Burton at 10 for Italy

Coach Nick Mallett has picked Australia-born Kris Burton to play in the crucial fly-half role in Italy’s Six Nations opener against Ireland at the Stadio Flaminio on Saturday.

With regular number 10 Craig Gower – a former Australia Rugby League international – ruled out of the tournament with injury, 30-year-old Burton was given the nod ahead of Luciano Orquera.

With Italy suffering from several injuries to back-rowers – Mauro Bergamasco, Paul Derbyshire and Robert Barbieri are all out – New Zealand-born Josh Sole earns a recall at flanker.

The only other change from Italy’s last November international against Fiji saw Santiago Dellape come in at lock and South African-born former Ulster player Carlo Del Fava dropping to the bench.

Italy team manager Luigi Troiani explained that Burton’s selection – his first in the Six Nations and only his fifth cap – over Orquera was in part due to the latter coming back from injury.

“It’s a technical choice conditioned also because Orquera is not in perfect physical condition due to an ankle problem and because Burton has been playing for his club,” he said.

Team (15-1):

Luke McLean; Andrea Masi, Gonzalo Canale, Alberto Sgarbi, Mirco Bergamasco; Kris Burton, Edoardo Gori; Sergio Parisse (capt), Alessandro Zanni, Josh Sole; Quintin Geldenhuys, Santiago Dellape; Martin Castrogiovanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Salvatore Perugini

Replacements: Fabio Ongaro, Andrea Lo Cicero, Carlo Del Fava, Valerio Bernabo, Paulo Canavosio, Luciano Orquera, Gonzalo Garcia

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