Fans have heaped praise on Sergio Parisse as he prepares for his fifth World Cup after Italy boss Conor O’Shea named the No8 in his squad for the finals.
The 35-year-old will join an exclusive club of two other players, Samoa’s Brian Lima and compatriot Mauro Bergamasco, in playing at five World Cups. It will also be his third time captaining his country at the finals.
Since making his debut in 2002 as an 18-year-old, Parisse has established himself as one of the modern greats of the game, being shortlisted for the World Player of the Year award in 2008 and 2013.
Few players make such an impact on their team as the Italian does, as he has stood head and shoulders above his team-mates at times throughout his career.
Fans on social media have been quick to praise the forward, with many acknowledging him as one of the greats of the game.
— Italrugby (@Federugby) August 18, 2019
Perhaps he has not received the recognition throughout his career from all over the world because he has not been in one of Test rugby’s high-flying nations, but there is still a huge number of fans that rate Parisse.
This World Cup could also see Parisse become the second most capped Test player in history. He currently sits third on the list alongside George Gregan with 139 caps but could eclipse him in the remaining warm-up Tests against France and England.
Should he play both warm-ups, he will be level with Ireland’s Brian O’Driscoll. However, for the No8 to level with New Zealand’s Richie McCaw, Italy would need to reach the final or third-place play-off, which is improbable.
Nonetheless, should this be the tournament in which the Toulon-bound forward bows out of the international game, he will leave a legacy as one of rugby’s best-ever players. This is what has been said:
Whilst carrying 14 other guys on his back. One of the best…. ever. #legend
— Alex Griffiths (@tokesurf76) August 20, 2019
A true leader and the epitome of sporting effort regardless of the result. Bravissimo.
— Paul L?????????????????? (@paul9lewis1) August 20, 2019
Will be regarded as one of the all time greats. If Italy can find a few more Parisse’s they would be a real force.
— Lee Wainfur ??????? (@LWainfur) August 19, 2019
This guy packs down at 8 in my all-time Respect XV. https://t.co/1CnmEX6GAT
— Alex Tarr (@alexthetarr) August 19, 2019
Best no.8 ever. https://t.co/MS0N0zj8BQ
— 5iceleZ0ndi (@SclZnd) August 19, 2019
— Jon Skipp (@GreenacreSkippy) August 19, 2019
— Kyle Huntington (@KyleHuntington5) August 19, 2019
Italy have never progressed to a World Cup quarter-final, and with Parisse’s men set to face the All Blacks and the Springboks in Pool B, it would be a titanic upset should they manage to do so this year. Regardless of where Italy finish, playing at a fifth tournament will be a remarkable feat for the Italy skipper.
WATCH: Episode four of the RugbyPass Rugby Explorer series where Jim Hamilton takes a trek through Italian rugby
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