Conor O’Shea has chosen a squad of 44 to train for Italy’s World Cup campaign, with only 10 having previous experience at a finals.
Captain Sergio Parisse is in the running for his fifth World Cup tournament while two other veterans, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Alessandro Zanni, are chasing their fourth participation
O’Shea’s preliminary squad, which will initially gather at Pergine Valsugana on June 2, consists largely of the players who represented the Azzurri in the frequent Six Nations, a competition where Italy again finished bottom of the table following five defeats.
There are returns for Marco Fuser, Rernato Giammarioli, Marco Lazzaroni and Giosue Zilocchi, who were fringe players in 2019, while Mattia Bellini, Giovanni Licata, Matteo Minozzi, Marcello Violi and Zani return to the mix following injury.
Fresh from their historic qualification for the Guinness PRO14 play-offs, Benetton account for 50 per cent of the training squad as Kieran Crowley’s squad, who play Munster this Saturday, were rewarded with 22 call-ups.
We sent Jim Hamilton to chat with Treviso coach Marius Goosen in what has been an amazing season for the Italian team in this season's PRO14 Rugby
Posted by RugbyPass on Monday, 29 April 2019
There are also three uncapped players included, Gloucester scrum-half Callum Braley, hooker Enjiel Makelara and prop Marco Riccioni.
O’Shea said: “The announcement of this team for summer gatherings leads to realising how close we are to the incredible sporting experience that awaits us in September in Japan. It’s a great opportunity to take a new step in our journey that aims to bring Italy back at the top of international rugby.
— Italrugby (@Federugby) May 2, 2019
“This group is a mix of young people and veterans, a truly electrifying whole. We have already had to make some difficult choices and even harder ones will have to be made during the summer.
“Playing a World Cup is every player’s dream. Between June and July we will hold four meetings in Pergine Valsugana, the first starting from June 2, working together and working alongside the two franchises before starting our summer Test matches on August 10 in Dublin against Ireland.”
'I haven’t been at Benetton for a long time but just you could see the emotion in a lot of the players’ faces'
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) May 1, 2019
Simone FERRARI (Benetton Rugby, 22 caps)
Andrea LOVOTTI (Zebre Rugby Club, 34 caps)
Tiziano PASQUALI (Benetton Rugby, 18 caps)
Nicola QUAGLIO (Benetton Rugby, 9 caps)
Marco RICCIONI (Benetton Rugby, uncapped)
Cherif TRAORE’ (Benetton Rugby, 10 caps)
Federico ZANI (Benetton Rugby 7 caps)
Giosuè ZILOCCHI (Zebre Rugby Club, 2 caps)
Luca BIGI (Benetton Rugby, 19 caps)
Oliviero FABIANI (Zebre Rugby Club, 7 caps)
Leonardo GHIRALDINI (Stade Toulousian 104 caps)
Engjel MAKELARA (Benetton Rugby, uncapped)
Dean BUDD (Benetton Rugby, 20 caps)
Marco FUSER (Benetton Rugby, 33 caps)
Federico RUZZA (Benetton Rugby, 12 caps)
David SISI (Zebre Rugby Club, 5 caps)
Alessandro ZANNI (Benetton Rugby, 111 caps)
Renato GIAMMARIOLI (Zebre Rugby Club, 3 caps)
Marco LAZZARONI (Benetton Rugby, 3 caps)
Giovanni LICATA (Zebre Rugby Club, 7 caps)
Maxime MBANDA’ (Zebre Rugby Club, 16 caps)
Sebastian NEGRI (Benetton Rugby, 16 caps)
Sergio PARISSE (Stade Francais, 138 caps) – captain
Jake POLLEDRI (Gloucester, 8 caps)
Abraham STEYN (Benetton Rugby, 30 caps)
Jimmy TUIVAITI (Zebre Rugby Club, 3 caps)
Callum BRALEY (Gloucester, uncapped)
Guglielmo PALAZZANI (Zebre Rugby Club, 31 caps)
Tito TEBALDI (Benetton Rugby, 32 caps)
Marcello VIOLI (Zebre Rugby Club, 15 caps)
Tommaso ALLAN (Benetton Rugby, 48 caps)
Carlo CANNA (Zebre Rugby Club, 32 caps)
Ian MCKINLEY (Benetton Rugby, 8 caps)
Tommaso BENVENUTI (Benetton Rugby, 56 caps)
Michele CAMPAGNARO (Wasps, 42 caps)
Tommaso CASTELLO (Zebre Rugby Club, 18 caps)
Luca MORISI (Benetton Rugby, 25 caps)
Marco ZANON (Benetton Rugby, 1 cap)
Mattia BELLINI (Zebre Rugby Club, 17 caps)
Giulio BISEGNI (Zebre Rugby Club, 11 caps)
Angelo ESPOSITO (Benetton Rugby, 20 caps)
Jayden HAYWARD (Benetton Rugby, 17 caps)
Matteo MINOZZI (Zebre Rugby Club, 10 caps)
Edoardo PADOVANI (Zebre Rugby Club, 20 caps)
WATCH: The RugbyPass documentary on Zebre, the PRO14 franchise
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