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Winger Ioane completes rugby's full circle

By AAP
Monty Ioane. (Photo by Emmanuele Ciancaglini/Ciancaphoto Studio/Getty Images)

Monty Ioane will return to Australian rugby next season but not before playing against the Wallabies for his adopted Italy.

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The winger, nephew to former Australian star Digby Ioane and cousin of current flanker Pete Samu, will line up for the Azzurri in Sunday’s (AEDT) Test against the Wallabies in Florence.

The Melbourne-born talent was schooled in Brisbane and part of the Reds’ development program before he headed to France.

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A Top-14 debut as an 18-year-old for Stade Francais came before a move to New Zealand where he was recruited by current Wallabies coach Dave Rennie to join the Chiefs.

He didn’t crack their Super Rugby team though, eventually shifting to Italy where he’s played for Benetton since 2017.

Ioane severed his contract there in September on mental health grounds and will play for the Rebels in Super Rugby next season.

The 28-year-old was born in Melbourne to Samoan and Fijian parents but never played for either of those two nations nor Australia.

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He qualified for Italy under World Rugby rules from before 2018 which allowed him to play for the Mediterranean nation after three years of residency.

Sunday’s Test will be Ioane’s first against his country of birth and he’ll enter in form, scoring twice in the Azzurri’s 49-17 win over Samoa last weekend.

Experienced loose forward Sebastian Negri and fullback Ange Capuozzo will both return from injury in Italy’s starting line-up.

Niccolo Cannone replaces David Sisi in the second row in the other change.

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ITALY:

15 Ange Capuozzo (Stade Toulousain, 5 Caps)
14 Pierre Bruno (Zebre Parma, 5 Caps)
13 Juan Ignacio Brex (Benetton Rugby, 16 Caps)
12 Luca Morisi (London Irish, 37 Caps)
11 Montanna Ioane (Melbourne Rebels, 15 Caps)
10 Paolo Garbisi (Montpellier, 21 Caps)
9 Stephen Varney (Gloucester Rugby, 13 Caps)
8 Lorenzo Cannone (Benetton Rugby, 1 Cap)
7 Michele Lamaro (Benetton Rugby, 19 Caps) – Capitano
6 Sebastian Negri (Benetton Rugby, 38 Caps)
5 Federico Ruzza (Benetton Rugby, 34 Caps)
4 Niccolò Cannone (Benetton Rugby, 23 Caps)
3 Simone Ferrari (Benetton Rugby, 38 Caps)
2 Gianmarco Lucchesi (Benetton Rugby, 15 Caps)
1 Danilo Fischetti (London Irish, 23 Caps)

REPLACEMENTS:
16 Giacomo Nicotera (Benetton Rugby, 5 Caps)
17 Ivan Nemer (Benetton Rugby, 9 Caps)
18 Pietro Ceccarelli (Ca Brive, 22 Caps)
19 David Sisi (Zebre Parma, 25 Caps)
20 Toa Halafihi (Benetton Rugby, 8 Caps)
21 Alessandro Garbisi (Benetton Rugby, 2 Caps)
22 Tommaso Allan (Harlequins, 64 Caps)
23 Tommaso Menoncello (Benetton Rugby, 4 Caps)

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