Former Italy captain Sergio Parisse says he would rather have played for Italy than for the All Blacks, despite his nation’s lengthy unsuccessful run in the international game.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, the 142-test No. 8 made the claim as his wait to cap off his test career with one final appearance for the Azzurri continues following the cancellation of matches over the past 12 months due to Typhoon Hagibis and COVID-19.
Of those 142 matches, Parisse has captained Italy 94 times, leading them to victory just 18 times, but the Argentina-born loose forward has no regrets about committing himself to his adopted nation.
“People say to me, ‘Don’t you wish you had been an All Black and had all that success?’ Well, no. Being Italian is who I am,” the 36-year-old told The Telegraph.
“Maybe I’d have won more games but would I have the same emotions, the same experiences, the same camaraderie, the same joy?
“The most important thing in life is how you feel. If you feel a failure, then sure, that is not a good thing. But I look at my career, and I am proud of it.”
Parisse said he never thought about playing his international rugby for Argentina despite being born there, as he instead opted to ply his trade for his parent’s nation of birth.
“It never occurred to me not to play for Italy,’’ he told The Daily Telegraph.
“My parents are Italian, we were brought up speaking Italian and returned home [to L’Aquila] every summer. To play for Italy was a dream, to play for my culture and my family.
“When you pull on a jersey, it is not just a piece of clothing for the day, a convenience. Loyalty, honour and trust – these are the things that mean a lot to me.’’
The third-most capped player in international rugby history will look to sign off his test career once the COVID-19 outbreak is maintained after being denied multiple opportunities to do so over the last year.
Typhoon Hagibis at last year’s World Cup in Japan forced the cancellation of Italy’s pool clash with the All Blacks in what was initially slated to be Parisse’s swansong from the national team.
His farewell was then scheduled to be Italy’s last match of this year’s Six Nations campaign against England in Rome, but that fixture was also canned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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