Alessandro Troncon, the finest of all Italian scrum-halves and the national captain for much of the country's Six Nations Championship existence, has been omitted from the squad for the forthcoming tournament, which begins with the Azzurri's trip to Dublin on 4 February. Pierre Berbizier, an even better scrum-half during his nine-year stint at the heels of the French pack in the 1980s, has picked the Calvisano half-back Paul Griffen and Simon Picone, of Treviso, instead.
Berbizier, who played for France in the first World Cup final in 1987 and then coached his country to the semi-final in 1995, was appointed by Italy after the departure of the New Zealander John Kirwan at the end of last season. The meeting with Ireland will be his first Six Nations outing with his new team.
For their part, the Irish have included Brian O'Driscoll, the Lions captain recently recovered from a serious shoulder injury, in their 35-man squad for the championship. There is no place for O'Driscoll's fellow centre, Kevin Maggs. Andrew Trimble joins Shane Horgan and Gordon D'Arcy in the midfield equation.
There is a place for Eoin Reddin, in fine form for Wasps at scrum-half this season, along with the exciting Leinster wing Robert Kearney. Up front, the former Connacht flanker Shane Jennings has been included among the back-row options after a string of resourceful performances for Leicester, whom he joined last summer.
Scotland have included two uncapped players from the Borders club, the centre Ben MacDougall and the open-side flanker Andy Miller, in a 32-strong training squad ahead of the Six Nations. Frank Hadden, the national coach, has also recalled the Glasgow captain Jon Petrie and the Leeds outside-half Gordon Ross.Reuse content