Italy duo close in on century
Martin Castrogiovanni and Sergio Parisse (Getty Images)
Rome - Captain Sergio Parisse and popular prop Martin Castrogiovanni are closing in on a century of caps after the Argentine-born pair were named in Italy coach Jacques Brunel's 30-man squad for next month's international tests.
Both Stade Francais No.8 Parisse and Toulon's Castrogiovanni have 98 caps and could surpass the century landmark during tests against Australia, Argentina and Fiji in November.
Veteran lock Marco Bortolami could also reach the milestone as he has 97 caps but unlike the other two, he is no longer a regular starter.
Alongside the experienced trio, Frenchman Brunel has called up uncapped duo Tommaso Allan and Treviso centre Michele Campagnaro.
Fly-half Allan, who plays for Perpignan in France, also has Scottish heritage and was brought up in South Africa but has opted to represent Italy despite previously playing in the under-20 Six Nations for Scotland.
He is generally understudy to Wales half-back James Hook at Perpignan but did start a 19-16 defeat to Racing Metro earlier this season, scoring 11 points.
Number 10 has long been Italy's problem position as the country has never found a suitable replacement to Argentine-born Diego Dominguez, who retired in 2003.
"With two years to go to the World Cup we wanted to have a look at this boy in a position where, in the national team, we don't have a lot of depth," said Brunel.
"A year ago we matched the All Blacks for an hour and lost by very little against Australia (current fly-half Luciano Orquera missed a last gasp penalty to snatch a draw).
"We had a good Six Nations (winning two matches in the competition for only the second time in 14 seasons) but we took a backward step during the summer tournament (in South Africa).
"We hope to see another progression with respect to the summer."
Italy begin the November tests against the Wallabies in Turin on November 9 before facing Fiji in Cremona a week later and then the Pumas in Roma on November 23.
Matias Aguero (Zebre), Martin Castrogiovanni (Toulon/FRA), Lorenzo Cittadini (Treviso), Michele Rizzo (Treviso), Leonardo Ghiraldini (Treviso), Davide Giazzon (Zebre), Valerio Bernabo (Treviso), Marco Bortolami (Zebre), Joshua Furno (Biarritz/FRA), Quintin Geldenhuys (Zebre), Antonio Pavanello (Treviso), Robert Barbieri (Treviso), Mauro Bergamasco (Zebre), Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais/FRA), Manoa Vosawai (Treviso), Alessandro Zanni (Treviso)
Tobias Botes (Treviso), Edoardo Gori (Treviso), Tommaso Allan (Perpignan/FRA), Alberto Di Bernardo (Treviso), Luciano Orquera (Zebre), Michele Campagnaro (Treviso), Gonzalo Canale (La Rochelle/FRA), Luca Morisi (Treviso), Alberto Sgarbi (Treviso), Tommaso Benvenuti (Perpignan/FRA), Tommaso Iannone (Zebre), Luke McLean (Treviso), Leonardo Sarto (Zebre), Giovanbattista Venditti (Zebre)