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Italy shift highly promising backline star to try recreate 2022 magic

BY Philip Bendon  ·  Friday Feb 23, 2024

Italy’s Azzurri travel to Lille this weekend in search of their first Guinness Six Nations victory since 2022.

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Pushing England all the way in round one before getting thumped by Ireland in Dublin, it has been a case of the same old story from a results standpoint for Italy thus far in the Championship.

Now under new leadership with head coach Gonzalo Quesada, the Azzurri have shown moments of brilliance, with several young players offering snippets of their potential.

Front and centre of these youngsters has been utility back Tommaso Menoncello, who caused England’s new rush defence all sorts of trouble in round one.

The 21-year-old is a physical specimen who stands at 6’2″ and 110kg; crucially, he plays like a player of this physique as he dominates the contact point.

Starting the first two matches in the centres, Menoncelloe formed a powerful combination with Ignacio Brex.

Yet despite the moments of brilliance from the partnership, Quesada has opted for a change ahead of Italy’s clash with France.

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Shifting Menoncello to the wing this weekend as Federico Mori wears the number 12 shirt, Quesada looks to be adding more power to his backline to counter the size of their French counterparts.

No stranger to this position, the Benetton star actually scored the first try of his international career playing against Les Bleus on the wing.

Not only was it his first try, but it was an absolute doozy as he pulled off an inch-perfect landing to get over for the score.

Although Italy lost this clash, the Azzurri went on to record a breathtaking victory over Wales in Cardiff.

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On that day, the Azzurri were magnificent, with fullback Ange Capuozzo truly announcing himself to the world stage with a moment of individual brilliance to set up Edoardo Padovani for the winning try.

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