ROME (Reuters) - Italy coach Conor O’Shea insists his side are on the right track as he named an inexperienced squad that includes five newcomers for their autumn international series on Wednesday.
O’Shea has called up Irish-born flyhalf Ian McKinley and New Zealand utility back Jayden Hayward as two of the new players for the matches against Fiji on Nov. 11, Argentina (Nov. 18) and South Africa (Nov. 25).
Other uncapped players are loose-forwards Renato Giammarioli and Giovanni Licata, and fullback Matteo Minozzi, in a squad in which 18 of the 31 have less than 10 caps.
Sergio Parisse has been retained as skipper, with the only other players with significant international experience being scrumhalf Edoardo Gori and hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini.
McKinley lost sight in one eye when he was struck by a stray boot in 2010 and plays with a pair of protective goggles.
He became eligible for Italy in January and was selected for the June internationals, but did not play.
Hayward has spent the last three years at Italian club Benetton after playing Super Rugby for New Zealand sides the Otago Highlanders and Wellington Hurricanes, and Australia’s Western Force.
“I’m convinced we are on the right track,” Irishman O’Shea said in a statement from the Italian Rugby Federation.
“We need to be focused on our performance, I don’t want the players to only think about the results, their focus must be on performance. I’m sure we will have three exciting weeks.”
Forwards: Luca Bigi, Dean Budd, Dario Chistolini, Oliviero Fabiani, Simone Ferrari, Marco Fuser, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Renato Giammarioli, Marco Lazzaroni, Giovanni Licata, Andrea Lovotti, Francesco Minto, Sebastian Negri, Sergio Parisse (captain), Tiziano Pasquali, Federico Ruzza, AJ Steyn, Federico Zani.
Backs: Mattia Bellini, Tommaso Boni, Carlo Canna, Tommaso Castello, Edoardo Gori, Angelo Esposito, Jayden Hayward, Ian Mckinley, Matteo Minozzi, Edoardo Padovani, Leonardo Sarto, Tito Tebaldi, Marcello Violi.
Reporting By Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge