Italian flanker Mauro Bergamasco is being trialed at scrum-half by his national coach Nick Mallett in the lead up to the Six Nations.
The 29-year-old Stade Francais loose forward has featured on the wing at senior level but has never played scrum-half in competitive rugby.
Italy head coach Nick Mallet has explained that he sees the older of the Bergamasco brothers as a potential No9 for the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand and that Mauro has therefore been working with Italian legend Alessandro Troncon during national training sessions.
The Azzuri, who finished bottom of last year’s Six Nations table, are currently experiencing huge selection problems in the scrum-half position, with Simon Picone and Pietro Travagli both injured and Pablo Canavosio not yet fully recovered from a minor knock.
"Canavosio will recover in time for England and he’ll play number nine in the Six Nations but I want to try Mauro in training," Mallett told Wednesday’s La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"He’s working with Troncon and could have a future at halfback for the 2011 World Cup. At the moment there aren’t any quality alternatives.”
Mallet has insisted that Bergamasco, who he believes has the necessary attributes to become an international-class No9, has not objected to the switch.
"With the new laws, the scrumhalf needs physical qualities similar to those of a loose forward,” explained Mallett.
"Mauro has experience, charisma, vision, organisational capacity and is excellent at kicks over his shoulder."