Aussie Burton to start for Italy

by staff

Australian-born Kris Burton has been named to play flyhalf for Italy in their Six Nations opener against Ireland at the Stadio Flaminio.

The 30-year-old takes over from regular playmaker and fellow Aussie Craig Gower, who has been ruled out of Saturday's match with a knee injury.

Italy coach Nick Mallet gave Burton the nod over Luciano Orquera, who started two of Italy's autumn internationals.

Burton, who grew up in Brisbane where he played Australian Rules before taking up Rugby at nine, qualifies for Italy through his mother andwill be representing his adopted country for just the fifth time.

He switched allegiance to Italy seven years ago, shortly after failing to make the grade with Super Rugby team the Queensland Reds.

Burton will be lining-up alongside his Treviso teammate and halfback Edoardo Gori and the Aussie believes the club combination will be a good thing for Italy.

"In regard to the (Celtic) League, you're playing with the same guys you're playing with every week," Burton said.

"You're playing and training with half the national team day in day out. It helps the cohesion of the team and hopefully we can show that on Saturday."

Alberto Sgarbi is another Treviso player included after a strong start to the season.

Sgarbi will start at inside center, with Andrea Masi has moved out to the wing.

In the forwards, captain Sergio Parisse has allayed fears that a dislocated finger would keep him out of action and starts at number 8.

The game will be Parisse's first Six Nations game since 2009 after he missed the entire 2010 championship with a knee injury.

Joining him in the pack is Racing Metro Paris second row Santiago Dellape, who returns to the team and wins his 61st cap after impressing in France's Top 14.

Italy team (15-1):

Luke McLean, Andrea Masi, Gonzalo Canale, Alberto Sgarbi, Mirco Bergamasco, Kristopher Burton, Eduardo Gori, Salvatore Perugini, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Martin Castrogiovanni, Santiago Dellape, Quintin Geldenhuys, Josh Sole, Alessandro Zanni, Sergio Parisse (captain).

Replacements: Fabio Ongaro, Andrea Lo Cicero, Carlo Antonio Del Fava, Valerio Bernabo, Pablo Canavosio, Luciano Orquera, Gonzalo Garcia