Capuozzo return headlines Italy World Cup squad

Ange Capuozzo has returned from injury in time to be named in Italy’s 33-man squad for the Rugby World Cup.

Ange Capuozzo has returned from injury in time to be named in Italy’s 33-man squad for the Rugby World Cup.

Head coach Kieran Crowley, who will be leaving his role after the conclusion of the tournament, names Capuozzo in a young squad looking to advance beyond the pool stage for the first time.

Full-back Capuozzo made his first appearance since April on Saturday, playing 70 minutes and scoring twice in a 57-7 rout over Romania.

Crowley has named four scrum-halves, in the form of Alessandro Fusco, Alessandro Garbisi, Martin Page-Relo and Stephen Varney, which leaves just seven players to fill the centre and back three positions despite the absence of regulars Tommaso Menoncello and Edoardo Padovani through injury.

Fresh from tying record points scorer Diego Dominguez on 74 caps, Tommaso Allan is the most experienced player in the squad, while prop Federico Zani is the oldest at 34.

Captain Michele Lamaro and wing Paolo Odogwu, who previously made an England training squad under Eddie Jones, are among 16 Benetton players selected.

Odogwu made his Azzurri debut against Ireland earlier in August in their Summer Nations Series clash and scored his first try at the weekend against the Oaks.

Italy begin their World Cup campaign at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint-Etienne against Namibia, the same venue where an 18-16 defeat to Scotland in the 2007 tournament denied them a place in the quarter-finals.

From there they head to Nice to play Uruguay, before matches in Lyon against New Zealand and hosts France.

There is one final game for Crowley’s chargers to negotiate before then – a final Summer Nations Series clash with Japan in Treviso.

Commenting on his selections, Crowley said: “It was not easy to arrive at the choice of the thirty-three athletes called up for the Rugby World Cup and all the players who participated in the preparation worked in the best possible way.

“Making decisions is our job and our responsibility and that’s what we did by selecting what we believe to be the best Italy possible.

“In the final selection, the ability of some athletes, both forwards and backs, to play more than one role, had a significant specific weight, allowing us to expand the choices available to us.

“We still have a test match against Japan to present ourselves in France in the best possible conditions and continue to write the history of this group.”

Italy squad for the Rugby World Cup

Forwards Pietro Ceccarelli CECCARELLI (Perpignan, 28 caps) Simone Ferrari (Benetton Rugby, 46 caps) Danilo Fischetti (Zebre Parma, 32 caps) Ivan Nemer (Benetton Rugby, 12 caps) Marco Riccioni (Saracens, 22 caps) Federico Zani (Benetton Rugby, 23 caps) Luca Bigi (Zebre Parma, 47 caps) Epalahame Faiva (released, 7 caps) Giacomo Nicotera (Benetton Rugby, 14 caps) Niccolò Cannone (Benetton Rugby, 32 caps) Dino Lamb (Harlequins, 2 caps) Federico Ruzza (Benetton Rugby, 44 caps) David Sisi (Zebre Parma, 28 caps) Lorenzo Cannone (Benetton Rugby, 11 caps) Toa Halafihi (Benetton Rugby, 11 caps) Michele Lamaro (Benetton Rugby, 28 caps) – captain Sebastian Negri (Benetton Rugby, 47 caps) Giovanni Pettinelli (Benetton Rugby, 13 caps) Manuel Zuliani (Benetton Rugby, 12 caps)

Backs Alessandro Fusco (Zebre Parma, 15 caps) Alessandro Garbisi (Benetton Rugby, 6 caps) Martin Page-Relo (Lyon, 1 cap) Stephen Varney (Gloucester Rugby, 20 caps) Tommaso Allan (Perpignan, 74 caps) Giacomo Da Re (Benetton Rugby, 2 caps) Paolo Garbisi (Montpellier, 26 caps) Juan Ignacio Brex (Benetton Rugby, 25 caps) Luca Morisi (released, 46 caps) Pierre Bruno (Zebre Parma, 13 caps) Ange Capuozzo (Stade Toulousain, 11 caps) Montanna Ioane (Lyon, 20 caps) Paolo Odogwu (Benetton Rugby, 2 caps) Lorenzo Pani (Zebre Parma, 3 caps)

Athletes not considered due to injury: Jake Polledri (Zebre Parma, 20 caps), Edoardo Padovani (Benetton Rugby, 44 caps), Tommaso Menoncello (Benetton Rugby, 12 caps)