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Dublin: 7°C Tuesday 9 March 2021

Ex-Ulster back Nelson named to start Canada's World Cup opener

The 26-year-old won his first Test cap in July.

Nelson has won four caps for Canada.
Nelson has won four caps for Canada.
Image: World Rugby

PETER NELSON’S REMARKABLE journey from Belfast to Test rugby with Canada will continue apace on Thursday when he starts for Kingsley Jones’ side in their World Cup opener.

Nelson, who only made his international debut for Canada in July, has been named to start at out-half for Canada’s Pool B clash against Conor O’Shea’s Italy in Fukuoka [KO 8.45am].

The 26-year-old left Ulster at the end of last season and moved to Vancouver to link up with Canada ahead of their Pacific Nations Cup campaign, with Nelson qualifying to represent Les Rouges through his Canadian grandmother.

The Dungannon native, who played 60 times for his native province, made his Test debut against USA in July and has won three further caps, in addition to an appearance against Leinster in August’s friendly fixture.

Glasgow Warriors winger DTH van der Merwe starts for Jones’ side against the Azzurri in what is his fourth World Cup, while London Irish back Ciaran Hearn is appearing in his third.

There is, however, no place for Cork native Shane O’Leary in Canada’s matchday 23. 

Meanwhile, Italy will rest talismanic captain Sergio Parisse, with an eye on sterner tests against New Zealand and South Africa.

italys-dean-budd Dean Budd will captain Italy. Source: Inpho/Billy Stickland

Lock Dean Budd will skipper the side in Parisse’s absence as the Azzurri look to improve on their unconvincing 47-22 win against minnows Namibia.

Only Jayden Hayward, Luca Bigi, Tommaso Allan, Tommaso Benvenuti and Braam Steyn keep their places and coach O’Shea has also tinkered with the backline, moving Hayward from fullback to inside centre.

The half-back combination of Callum Braley and Tommaso Allan is the 13th different pairing used by Italy since the 2015 World Cup. 


15. Patrick Parfrey
14. Jeff Hassler
13. Ben Lesage
12. Nick Blevins
11. DTH van der Merwe
10. Peter Nelson
9. Gordon McRorie

1. Hubert Buydens
2. Eric Howard
3. Matt Tierney
4. Conor Keys
5. Josh Larsen
6. Michael Sheppard
7. Lucas Rumball
8. Tyler Ardron (captain).


16. Benoit Piffero
17. Djustice Duru-Sears
18. Jake Ilnicki
19. Luke Campbell
20. Matt Heaton
21. Jamie Mackenzie
22. Ciaran Hearn
23. Andrew Coe.

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15. Matteo Minozzi
14. Tommaso Benvenuti
13. Michele Campagnaro
12. Jayden Hayward
11. Giulio Bisegni
10. Tommaso Allan
9. Callum Braley

1. Andrea Lovotti
2. Luca Bigi
3. Simone Ferrari
4. David Sisi
5. Dean Budd (captain)
6. Sebastian Negri
7. Jake Polledri
8. Braam Steyn.


16. Federico Zani
17. Nicola Quaglio
18. Marco Riccioni
19. Federico Ruzza
20. Maxime Mbanda
21. Guglielmo Palazzani
22. Carlo Canna
23. Mattia Bellini.

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Ryan Bailey

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