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'We have discussed it': Italy want Lynagh, Lozowski and Odogwu

By PA
(Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images for Harlequins)

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Italy head coach Kieran Crowley says he has spoken directly with Harlequins wing Louis Lynagh and Saracens fly-half Alex Lozowski about their availability for the Azzurri. The New Zealander also confirmed there had been contact with Wasps wing Paolo Odogwu, whose father is of Italian descent, on the same subject.

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Uncapped Lynagh, son of rugby great Michael Lynagh, qualifies for Italy via his mother. He is also eligible for Australia and England. Lozowski, who has an Italian grandmother, could take advantage of new World Rugby rules surrounding eligibility.

He won the last of his five England caps in November 2018 and could now switch countries as he has completed the required stand-down period from international rugby of three years. “Paolo has been contacted, and the other two I have spoken to personally,” Crowley said at the Guinness Six Nations virtual media launch.

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How Finn Russell is dong at Racking ahead of the Six Nations
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How Finn Russell is dong at Racking ahead of the Six Nations

“We have discussed it and they have made decisions at the moment that I respect 100 per cent and I support them 100 per cent. I will keep in contact with them. If they declared themselves available for Italy, certainly we would be looking at them. They are all quality players. I am open to anyone being available. 

“We will keep the lines of communication open, not only with those three but there are a number of others as well. You gave got to talk to them about their desires. I have had conversations with them about their availability for Italy. 

“Louis is also eligible for Australia. They have some decisions to make. They are playing for clubs in England and if they suddenly make themselves available for Italy, how does that affect their contractual status, which is their livelihood?”

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Italy face a tough tournament opener against title favourites France in Paris on Sunday week before hosting England. They will be trying to avoid a last-place finish in the Six Nations for the 17th time. Italy have not won a game in the competition since 2015. Such a miserable results sequence regularly sparks debate about their Six Nations future and whether promotion and relegation should be introduced.

Crowley added: “The decisions around Italy being in the Six Nations, that’s board talk and boards need to decide those sorts of things. If I was giving a personal opinion, I would welcome a promotion and relegation system. Who is to say that anyone else would be any better than Italy in the Six Nations?

“I don’t think it will ever get to that because teams – Scotland, Wales, Ireland, England, France – might have a bad year and they are suddenly down. It is something that we certainly don’t focus on and we hopefully can over the next couple of Six Nations campaigns quell that talk by our performances.”

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