Italian record appearance maker Sergio Parisse has announced he will win his last international cap on home soil during this year’s Guinness Six Nations, and that he will not be available for the Championship’s entirety.
The 36-year-old was denied a chance to win his 143rd cap in the Azzurri’s final Rugby World Cup pool match against New Zealand because of Typhoon Hagibis, and now looks set to bid farewell in one of two home games this spring, against Scotland on February 22 or England three weeks later.
While the Red Rose’s visit to the Stadio Olimpico comes in the final round of the competition, Parisse insists he will not be available for all of his country’s five games, in which they will look to better last year’s winless campaign.
With Parisse’s admission that he needs to pave the way for Italy’s emerging talent to grace the biggest stage, head coach Franco Smith must now ponder over who to name as skipper in place of the Toulon back-rower.
Having made his Italy bow in 2002, Parisse will depart the international scene third on the all-time list for appearances, behind only New Zealand World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw and Wales skipper Alun Wyn Jones.
“I told Smith of my desire to end my international career in Rome in front of my family, friends and fans,” said Parisse in an interview with Corriere dello Sport, and reported by www.onrugby.it.
“It is fitting that I deserve another match, because I can’t finish with a game cancelled by the typhoon.
“I will face Scotland, England or both, but I will certainly not play all of the Six Nations. The national team needs to develop other players with leadership skills.
“If I was in the squad permanently – or even more if I was captain – I would occupy certain spaces and it’s time for others to take my place.”