Big on being a ball carrier at number eight . . . Vunisa. Photo: World Rugby
Fiji-born number eight happy to replace Sergio Parisse in the Azzurri’s opening match against France on Saturday
GUILDFORD – Italy’s Samuela Vunisa is remarkably laid back for someone who has to replace a national hero.
The Fiji-born number eight is the man who has been selected to take the place of injured captain Sergio Parisse in the Azzurri’s opening match against France at Twickenham on Saturday.
Parisse is yet to recover after having a haematoma drained from his calf muscle and Italy coach Jacques Brunel gave the 27-year-old Vunisa the nod, with hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini chosen to lead the team out as captain.
Flyhalf Tusi Pisi will be the key player for Manu Samoa today in Apia. Photo: Planet Rugby
After rusty performances last weekend, both Samoa and Italy will be out to prove a point when they do battle in Apia today.
Tonga shocked Samoa in Apia, when they claimed a late 18-18 draw, and Italy’s three-Test tour got off to a poor start when they suffered a 25-14 defeat to Fiji in Suva.
Apart from that draw against Tonga, Samoa – albeit without several of their overseas-based players – also suffered a 33-14 defeat to Japan in Tokyo last month.
They also faced Tonga with several first-choice players on the bench but have recalled world class Northampton Saints duo Kahn Fotuali’i and George Pisi to their back-line while London Irish bruiser Ofisa Treviranus Saracens prop James Johnston and Clermont hooker Ti’i Paulo also return to the run-on side to bolster the pack.