SA-born duo in Italy squad

Italy coach Jacques Brunel (Gallo Images)
Italy coach Jacques Brunel (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Two South African-born players are among 20 uncapped players named by Italy coach Jacques Brunel in his Six Nations training squad.

Forwards Andries van Schalkwyk and Abraham Steyn both made the cut as Brunel looks to improve on last year's single victory over Scotland in the annual tournament.

The squad includes none of Italy’s overseas-based players.

Van Schalkwyk, 30, has played for Italian club Zebre since 2012.

He played for a host of South African provinces since his first-class debut with the Falcons in 2006 - including the Boland Cavaliers, Blue Bulls, Kings, Leopards, Lions and Free State Cheetahs.

Steyn, 23, played two games for the Sharks in 2012, before heading to Italy - where he played for Mogliano, Zebre and Calvisano, before joining Benetton Treviso last year.

Italy kick off their Six Nations campaign against France in Paris on February 6 before hosting England in Rome on Valentine's Day.

Italy training squad:

Forwards: Valerio Bernabo (Zebre), George Fabio Biagi (Zebre), Pietro Ceccarelli (Zebre), Dario Chistolini (Zebre), Tommaso D'Apice (Zebre), Giuseppe Di Stefano (Golden Flames Rome), Matthew Ferro (Femi-CZ Rovigo), Ornell Gega (Benetton Treviso), Davide Giazzon (Benetton Treviso), Andrea Lovotti (Zebre), Maxime Mbanda (Rugby Calvisano), Francesco Minto (Benetton Treviso), Sami Panico (Rugby Calvisano), Federico Ruzza (Zebre), Jacopo Sarto (Zebre), Abraham Steyn (Benetton Treviso), Andries van Schalkwyk (Zebre), Alessandro Zanni (Benetton Treviso), Matthew Zanusso (Benetton Treviso)

Backs: Mattia Bellini (Petrarca Padova), Julius Bisegni (Zebre), Thomas Boni (Zebre), Andrea Buondonno (Marchiol Mogliano), Carlo Canna (Zebre), Thomas Castle (Rugby Calvisano), Gonzalo Garcia (Zebre), Kelly Haimona (Zebre), Simone Marinaro (Golden Flames Rome), Luke McLean (Benetton Treviso), David Odiete (Marchiol Mogliano), Edward Padovani (Zebre), William Palazzini (Zebre), Andrea Pratichetti (Benetton Treviso), Marco Susio (Rugby Calvisano), Michele Visentin (Zebre)

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