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Italy bolstered by return of 2 starters after injuries against England

By Josh Raisey
Lorenzo Cannone of Italy gestures during Italy training session at Payanini Center on January 23, 2024 in Verona, Italy. (Photo by Francesco Scaccianoce/Federugby via Getty Images)

Italy head coach Gonzalo Quesada has named his 34-player squad that will prepare to take on Scotland and Wales in the final two rounds of the Guinness Six Nations, with back rows Sebastian Negri and Lorenzo Cannone returning after picking up injuries in round one against England.

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Flanker Negri, who is now the most capped player in the Italy squad after Tommaso Allan pulled out, missed the loss over Ireland and draw with France after suffering a rib injury against England in Rome. His back row companion in that match, No8 Cannone, also succumbed to a knee injury that ruled him out of rounds two and three of the Championship.

The pair are back in the fold this week though as the Azzurri seek to build upon their 13-13 draw with France on Sunday. A Scotland side that are fresh from a Calcutta Cup win over England are next for Italy at the Stadio Olimpico.

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NORTH vs SOUTH: Rhys Patchell on the differences he’s seen since playing in NZ

Welsh fly-half Rhys Patchell weighs in on the differences between playing for the Scarlets back home and where he is playing now, with the Highlanders in New Zealand

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NORTH vs SOUTH: Rhys Patchell on the differences he’s seen since playing in NZ

Welsh fly-half Rhys Patchell weighs in on the differences between playing for the Scarlets back home and where he is playing now, with the Highlanders in New Zealand

After naming his squad, Quesada said (translated by Google): “After a week in which all the players returned to their own clubs, we will meet the group again on Sunday afternoon starting the next meeting with great concentration towards the two matches that will close the Six Nations.

“We showed a great performance against France and the objective will be to continue to improve in the next matches by confirming what we showed on the pitch.

Fixture
Six Nations
Italy
31 - 29
Full-time
Scotland
All Stats and Data

“We are focused on our team identity, our play in every sector and, above all, our growth path” said Gonzalo Quesada.”

Italy Squad  
Props
Pietro CECCARELLI (Perpignan, 32 caps)
Simone FERRARI (Benetton Rugby, 51 caps)
Danilo FISCHETTI (Zebre Parma, 39 caps)
Marco RICCIONI (Saracens, 26 caps)
Mirco SPAGNOLO (Benetton Rugby, 3 caps)
Giosuè ZILOCCHI (Benetton Rugby, 19 caps)

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Hookers
Gianmarco LUCCHESI (Benetton Rugby, 20 caps)
Marco MANFREDI (Zebre Parma, 3 caps)
Giacomo NICOTERA (Benetton Rugby, 21 caps)

Second rows
Matteo CANALI (Zebre Parma, esordiente)
Niccolò CANNONE (Benetton Rugby, 39 caps)
Federico RUZZA (Benetton Rugby, 52 caps)
Andrea ZAMBONIN (Zebre Parma, 6 caps)

Back rows
Lorenzo CANNONE (Benetton Rugby, 17 caps)
Riccardo FAVRETTO (Benetton Rugby, 2 caps)
Alessandro IZEKOR (Benetton Rugby, 2 caps)
Michele LAMARO (Benetton Rugby, 36 caps)
Sebastian NEGRI (Benetton Rugby, 53 caps)
Ross VINTCENT (Exeter Chiefs, 2 caps)
Manuel ZULIANI (Benetton Rugby, 20 caps)

Scrum-halves
Alessandro GARBISI (Benetton Rugby, 8 caps)
Martin PAGE-RELO (Lyon, 6 caps)
Stephen VARNEY (Gloucester, 27 caps)

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Fly-halves
Paolo GARBISI (Toulon, 34 caps)
Leonardo MARIN (Benetton Rugby, 7 caps)

Centres
Juan Ignacio BREX (Benetton Rugby, 33 caps)
Tommaso MENONCELLO (Benetton Rugby, 15 caps)
Federico MORI (Bayonne, 16 caps)
Marco ZANON (Benetton Rugby, 16 caps)

Wingers/fullbacks
Ange CAPUOZZO (Toulouse, 18 caps)
Monty IOANE (Lyon, 28 caps)
Simone GESI (Zebre Parma, 1 cap)
Louis LYNAGH (Harlequins, uncapped)
Lorenzo PANI (Zebre Parma, 7 caps)

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Poorfour 11 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

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