Bergamasco back for Italy
Rome - Versatile back Mirco Bergamasco was named in Italy's pre-Six Nations 30-man squad by coach Jacques Brunel Thursday, for the first time in more than a year.
The 30-year-old has not played for Italy since November 2012 when he broke his knee against Australia in Florence.
At the time he was on big-spending Parisian giants Racing-Metro's books but has since re-emerged at Italian domestic outfit Rovigo.
"I clearly told Mirco that if he stood out at Eccellenza level (the Italian top flight) I wouldn't have any problem with picking him," said Frenchman Brunel.
"He is regularly amongst the best players on the pitch with Rovigo, he has a long kick and is the most experienced three-quarter on the international stage still playing."
Apart from a handful of players plying their trade in France's Top 14, almost all the other players in the squad turn out for either of Italy's two Celtic League franchises, Treviso and Zebre.
It was Bergamasco, who has played 89 times for Italy, who scored the winning penalty when the Azzurri claimed their first Six Nations win over France in 2011.
Perpignan's Scotland-born fly-half Tommaso Allan, 20, has received another call-up after impressing during the November internationals.
But with Wasps full-back Andrea Masi, Zebre wing Giovanbattista Venditti and La Rochelle centre Gonzalo Canale injured, Brunel has selected debutants Angelo Esposito, the Treviso wing, and Zebre full-back Guglielmo Palazzani.
Italy begin their campaign with a trip to Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on February 1 to face Wales before travelling to Paris to take on France at the Stade de France.
The 30-man squad will meet in Rome on January 19 and 24 before starting preparations for the tournament on January 26.
It will be cut down to 23 or 24 players a few days before the Wales match.
Forwards: Martin Castrogiovanni (Toulon/FRA), Lorenzo Cittadini (Treviso), Alberto De Marchi (Treviso), Michele Rizzo (Treviso), Leonardo Ghiraldini (Treviso), Davide Giazzon (Zebre), Marco Bortolami (Zebre), Marco Fuser (Treviso), Quintin Geldenhuys (Zebre), Antonio Pavanello (Treviso), Robert Barbieri (Treviso), Mauro Bergamasco (Zebre), Paul Derbyshire (Treviso), Joshua Furno (Biarritz/FRA), Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais/FRA, capt), Alessandro Zanni (Treviso)
Backs: Tobias Botes (Treviso), Edoardo Gori (Treviso), Tommaso Allan (Perpignan/FRA), Luciano Orquera (Zebre), Tommaso Benvenuti (Perpignan/FRA), Michele Campagnaro (Treviso), Gonzalo Garcia (Zebre), Alberto Sgarbi (Treviso), Mirco Bergamasco (Rovigo), Angelo Esposito (Treviso), Tommaso Iannone (Zebre), Luke McLean (Treviso), Guglielmo Palazzani (Zebre), Leonardo Sarto (Zebre)