Australian-born Burton in Italy Six Nations side
by Barnaby Chesterman
ROME: Australian-born Kris Burton will line up at fly-half in Italy's Six Nations opener against France in Paris.
Burton is looking forward to his opportunity, having been overlooked by previous coach Nick Mallett for the World Cup.
He qualifies to play for Italy through his mother's ancestry, moving there after failing to get selected for Super 12 at the Queensland Reds.
With Luciano Orquera injured, Burton will be handed Italy's kicking and play-making duties.
"It's a big opportunity. I take every start or every time I get on the field with Italy as an opportunity to prove myself and show I can play at this level," he said.
"I hope this weekend I can prove that I can move the team around and forward properly and show that I can read the game."
Italy: Andrea Masi; Giovanbattista Venditti, Tommaso Benvenuti, Alberto Sgarbi, Luke McLean; Kris Burton, Edoardo Gori; Sergio Parisse, Robert Barbieri, Alessandro Zanni; Quintin Geldenhuys, Cornelius Van Zyl; Martin Castrogiovanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Andrea Lo Cicero. Replacements: Tommaso D'Apice, Lorenzo Cittadini, Marco Bortolami, Simone Favaro, Fabio Semenzato, Tobias Botes, Gonzalo Canale
Wales' Rees ruled out of Ireland game
CARDIFF: Matthew Rees has been ruled out of contention for Wales' Six Nations opener against Ireland after suffering a calf strain.
Rees, who was vying for a starting place along with World Cup hooker Huw Bennett, may also miss Wales' second championship game against Scotland later this week.
Bennett now seems certain to win his 50th cap when Wales line up against Ireland in Dublin on Sunday. With Rees missing, Scarlets team-mate Ken Owens is favourite to earn a place on the bench.
Wales' preparations for the Six Nations have been disrupted by a string of injuries to key players, with centre Jamie Roberts, fly-half Rhys Priestland and flanker Dan Lydiate all battling to be fit.
Prop Gethin Jenkins and World Cup locks Luke Charteris and Alun-Wyn Jones have already been ruled out of contention as Wales coach Warren Gatland prepares to name his team on Friday.
Earls picked for Ireland
DUBLIN: Regular winger Keith Earls has been picked to replace Brian O'Driscoll in the Ireland midfield for the Six Nations opener against Wales at Lansdowne Road.
Captain and centre O'Driscoll will miss the entire tournament while he rehabs from shoulder and neck surgery on a trapped nerve.
Earls was chosen on Wednesday ahead of Tommy Bowe, Fergus McFadden and Andrew Trimble at centre because he's played there recently for Munster, and impressed coach Declan Kidney.
"All players can adapt," Kidney said. "He's played a lot in the position and is comfortable there. Keith has been playing very strongly in the Heineken Cup."
Ireland: Rob Kearney, Tommy Bowe, Keith Earls, Gordon D'Arcy, Andrew Trimble, Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Jamie Heaslip, Sean O'Brien, Stephen Ferris, Paul O'Connell (captain), Donncha O'Callaghan, Mike Ross, Rory Best, Cian Healy. Reserves: Sean Cronin, Tom Court, Donnacha Ryan, Peter O'Mahony, Eoin Reddan, Ronan O'Gara, Fergus McFadden.