Vunisa set for Azzuri debut against Boks

Italy have called on Fiji-born flanker Samuela Vunisa to tackle the Springboks this weekend.

Fiji-born flanker Samuela Vunisa will make his Italy debut against South Africa on Saturday in the only change to the side that lost to Argentina last week.

Vunisa, who has yet to play for Italy after being called into the squad for the November Tests, will replace Simone Favaro (neck) in the back row.

In the only other notable switch, Leonardo Sarto has been pulled back to the right wing with Luke McLean going the other way to the left wing.

Italy beat Samoa 24-13 in their opening Test and despite last week's 20-18 defeat to the Pumas, coach Jacques Brunel said he had seen enough to confirm the nucleus of his team for the Springboks, which he described as "the form team of the November series".

"After the first two games against Samoa and Argentina we were satisfied at how the team performed so we thought it was only fair to confirm the line-up that has impressed in recent weeks," said Brunel.

On Vunisa's inclusion, Brunel added: "We'd been following Sam for the past year and a half ... Now it's time we tested him at international level."

Brunel, however, said the powerful Fijian had a lot to live up to.

"Against Samoa and Argentina Simone made a brilliant return to competition after more than a year away from the international matches," added the Frenchman.

South Africa, who suffered a 29-15 loss to Ireland in their opening Test in Dublin, made amends with a 31-28 win over England at Twickenham last week.

Brunel said: "The Springboks are without doubt the form team of this November series. They had a great summer and also brought the All Blacks' winning streak to an end."

Italy team (15-1)

Andrea Masi; Leonardo Sarto, Michele Campagnaro, Luca Morisi, Luke McLean; Kelly Haimona, Edoardo Gori; Sergio Parisse (capt), Samuela Vunisa, Alessandro Zanni; Joshua Furno, Quintin Geldenhuys; Martin Castrogiovanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Matias Aguero. Res: Andrea Manici, Alberto De Marchi, Dario Chistolini, Marco Bortolami, Francesco Minto, Guglielmo Palazzani, Luciano Orquera, Giulio Toniolatti

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch