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O’Shea names Italy squad for Rugby World Cup

O’Shea names Italy squad for Rugby World Cup
  • Captain Parisse set for record-equalling fifth World Cup
  • 23 RWC debutants in 31-man group
  • Zanni and Ghiraldini to play in fourth World Cups

Sergio Parisse is set to equal the record for featuring in the most Rugby World Cups after he was selected for his fifth tournament by Conor O’Shea.

The Italian skipper became the Guinness Six Nations’ all-time record appearance-maker earlier this year when he surpassed Brian O’Driscoll’s total of 65 matches, and will draw level alongside Samoan Brian Lima and compatriot Mauro Bergamasco for total World Cups in Japan.

Elsewhere, there is a healthy mixture of youth and experience, with Leonardo Ghiraldini and Alessandro Zanni adding a fourth World Cup to their personal tallies, while at the other end of the spectrum O’Shea has named 23 who are uncapped at RWC level.

Of the 31-strong group, 25 ply their trade domestically in Italy for either Benetton or Zebre, as the Azzurri prepare for a tricky Pool B.

Drawn alongside two multiple champions in New Zealand and South Africa, O’Shea’s side will hope to pick up a result against one of the big boys, with Namibia and Canada making up the quintet.

And after going through the intricacies of whittling down his squad, O’Shea believes that his group are ready to write their name into Italian rugby folklore.

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“It was the hardest conversations I’ve ever had in my rugby life with people, because people might say that our goal isn’t World Cup winning – it might be to get out of our Pool and make history,” he said.

“I think you see people talking about how hard it is – and I didn’t realise how hard it would be – the boys have worked so hard since June 2, when we got together for the first time.

“I found it very difficult, as they did, but you also much be ready, because history tells you that you do have injuries and I’m sure some of the guys that I’ve had that conversation with will be called out before the start of the tournament.

“You can see the depth and competition in so many positions and we know where the young players are coming up behind.

“This last year for me has been the turning point for Italian rugby. We want to make history and actually get results for ourselves, because this group have done to change the mentality for Italian rugby.

“The future is there; everyone can see that. There’s lots still to do; lots of changes still need to be made to allow us to fulfil our potential, but boy we have a good group of players.”

Italy squad for Rugby World Cup

Forwards

Simone Ferrari (Benetton Rugby)

Andrea Lovotti (Zebre Rugby Club)

Tiziano Pasquali (Benetton Rugby)

Nicola Quaglio (Benetton Rugby)

Marco Riccioni (Benetton Rugby)

Federico Zani (Benetton Rugby)

Luca Bigi (Zebre Rugby Club)

Oliviero Fabiani (Zebre Rugby Club)

Leonardo Ghiraldini (Unattached)

Dean Budd (Benetton Rugby)

Federico Ruzza (Benetton Rugby)

David Sisi (Zebre Rugby Club)

Alessandro Zanni (Benetton Rugby)

Maxime Mbanda ‘(Zebre Rugby Club)

Sebastian Negri (Benetton Rugby)

Sergio Parisse (Toulon) – captain

Jake Polledri (Gloucester)

Abraham Steyn (Benetton Rugby)

Backs

Callum Braley (Gloucester)

Guglielmo Palazzini (Zebre Rugby Club)

Tito Tebaldi (Benetton Rugby)

Tommaso Allan (Benetton Rugby)

Carlo Canna (Zebre Rugby Club)

Tommaso Benvenuti (Benetton Rugby)

Michele Campagnaro (Harlequins)

Luca Morisi (Benetton Rugby)

Mattia Bellini (Zebre Rugby Club)

Giulio Bisegni (Zebre Rugby Club)

Jayden Hayward (Benetton Rugby)

Matteo Minozzi (Wasps)

Edoardo Padovani (Zebre Rugby Club)