A FORMER Crymych RFC scrum half will be on the bench for Italy as they open their 2024 Guinness Six Nations campaign against England this weekend.

Stephen Varney has been named amongst the replacements by Italy head coach Gonzalo Quesada who instead chose a sibling half-back pairing as Alessandro Garbisi takes on the scrum-half position to join his brother Paolo at flyhalf.

22-year-old Varney, who is from Rhoshill near Cardigan and currently plays for Gloucester Rugby in the Gallagher Premiership, is a Welsh speaker who qualifies for Italy through his grandparents on his mother’s side.

He has 24 caps for the Italian senior national side.

Italy will take on England at Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Saturday, February 3 (kick off 2.15pm, live on ITV1 and ITVX).

Italy team: 15 Tommaso Allan, 14 Ange Capuozzo, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Tommaso Menoncello, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Alessandro Garbisi; 1 Danilo Fischetti, 2 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 4 Niccolò Cannone, 5 Federico Ruzza, 6 Sebastian Negri, 7 Michele Lamaro, 8 Lorenzo Cannone.

Replacements: Giacomo Nicotera, Mirco Spagnolo, Giosuè Zilocchi, Andrea Zambonin, Edoardo Iachizzi, Manuel Zuliani, Stephen Varney, Lorenzo Pani.

England: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Tommy Freeman, 13 Henry Slade, 12 Fraser Dingwall, 11 Elliot Daly, 10 George Ford, 9 Alex Mitchell, 1 Joe Marler, 2 Jamie George, 3 Will Stuart, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Ollie Chessum, 6 Ethan Roots, 7 Sam Underhill, 8 Ben Earl.

Replacements: 16 Theo Dan, 17 Ellis Genge, 18 Dan Cole, 19 Alex Coles, 20 Chandler Cunningham-South, 21 Danny Care, 22 Fin Smith, 23 Immanuel Feyi-Waboso.