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Ex-England U20 fullback Matt Gallagher set for Italy debut

By Josh Raisey
Matt Gallagher of Bath during the Gallagher Premiership Rugby match between Bath Rugby and Saracens at The Recreation Ground on April 26, 2024 in Bath, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Former Bath and England U20 fullback Matt Gallagher is in line to make his Italy debut this Friday against Samoa after being selected to start by head coach Gonzalo Quesada.

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The 27-year-old, who joined Benetton this summer, is the only uncapped player that will take the field in Apia, with Castres hooker Loris Zarantonello set to make his debut from the bench.

The starting XV includes debutants from this year’s Six Nations Alessandro Izekor, Ross Vintcent and another England age-grade player Louis Lynagh, who all contributed to the Azzurri’s promising campaign.

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Like Lynagh, Gallagher is also the son of a former World Cup winner, All Black John Gallagher.

This is not far short of the strongest squad at Quesada’s disposal, with the popular centre partnership of Six Nations player of the championship Tommaso Menoncello and Juan Ignacio Brex set to be unleashed on Samoa.

Fixture
Internationals
Samoa
33 - 25
Full-time
Italy
All Stats and Data

“The main challenge for us was to find all our interconnections after four months without having the opportunity to work together with all the athletes coming from the habits of their clubs,” Quesada said after naming his team.

“This summer tour comes at the end of a very long season that began in June 2023 with the preparation for the RWC. The players have shown, as usual, great energy and great human quality.

“The primary objective, in addition to the focus on our performance, is to manage the match according to how we prepared it, further improving various phases of the game. This tour – in which we will have several adversities to face – represents a new opportunity for growth for the entire group, further strengthening our team identity.”

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Italy XV
15 Matt GALLAGHER (Benetton Rugby, debut)
14 Louis LYNAGH (Benetton Rugby, 2 caps)
13 Juan Ignacio BREX (Benetton Rugby, 35 caps)
12 Tommaso MENONCELLO (Benetton Rugby, 17 caps)
11 Monty IOANE (Lyon, 30 caps)
10 Paolo GARBISI (Toulon, 36 caps)
9 Stephen VARNEY (Gloucester Rugby, 29 caps)
8 Ross VINTCENT (Exeter Chiefs, 4 caps)
7 Michele LAMARO (Benetton Rugby, 38 caps) – captain
6 Alessandro IZEKOR (Benetton Rugby, 2 caps)
5 Federico RUZZA (Benetton Rugby, 54 caps)
4 Niccolò CANNONE (Benetton Rugby, 41 caps)
3 Simone FERRARI (Benetton Rugby, 53 caps)
2 Gianmarco LUCCHESI (Benetton Rugby, 22 caps)
1 Danilo FISCHETTI (Zebre Parma, 41 caps)

Replacements
16 Loris ZARANTONELLO (Castres, debut)
17 Mirco SPAGNOLO (Benetton Rugby, 5 caps)
18 Giosuè ZILOCCHI (Benetton Rugby, 21 caps)
19 Edoardo IACHIZZI (Benetton Rugby, 6 caps)
20 Manuel ZULIANI (Benetton Rugby, 21 caps)
21 Lorenzo CANNONE (Benetton Rugby, 19 caps)
22 Martin PAGE-RELO (Lyon, 8 caps)
23 Leonardo MARIN (Benetton Rugby, 9 caps)

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