Veteran No 8 Sergio Parisse will lead Italy at his fifth World Cup in Japan next month, equalling fellow Italian legend Mauro Bergamasco and Samoan Brian Lima for the most rugby World Cup appearances.
The Argentinian-born Parisse, who made his tournament debut in Italy’s 70-7 defeat by the All Blacks at the 2003 competition, will be assisted by Leonardo Ghiraldini who will be featuring at his fourth World Cup.
After defeating Russia 85-15 in a World Cup warm-up fixture over the weekend, head coach Conor O’Shea has named an inexperienced squad, with 23 of the 31 players selected having no World Cup experience.
O’Shea, like most coaches who will name their squads in the coming weeks, had the unenviable task of giving certain players some bad news and admitted that selecting the squad was really tough.
‘Choosing the 31 players for the Rugby World Cup and talking to those who will not continue the adventure with us, was probably the hardest thing I have done since I’ve been in the rugby world,’ commented O’Shea after trimming his squad from 44 players.
Italy have been drawn in Pool B to face title favourites New Zealand and South Africa, and will be looking to cause an upset and advance to their first-ever quarter-final. The Italians will also face Namibia and Canada.
‘At the World Cup, we must absolutely win against Namibia and Canada and then focus on the other two big challenges we have.
‘I believe that with South Africa, with this group, an opportunity can be created every day,’ said the Irishman, who lead the Italians to their first-ever victory over the Springboks back in 2016.
The Italians will play two more World Cup warm-up matches against France on 30 August and England on 6 September, before they open their campaign against the Namibians in Osaka on 22 September.
Forwards: Simone Ferrari, Andrea Lovotti, Tiziano Pasquali, Nicola Quaglio, Marco Riccioni, Federico Zani, Luca Bigi, Oliviero Fabiani, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Dean Budd, Federico Ruzza, David Sisi, Alessandro Zanni, Maxime Mbanda, Sebastian Negri, Sergio Parisse (c), Jake Polledri, Abraham Steyn.
Backs: Callum Braley, Guglielmo Palazzani, Tito Tebaldi, Tommaso Allan, Carlo Canna, Tommaso Benvenuti, Michele Campagnaro, Luca Morisi, Mattia Bellini, Giulio Bisegni, Jayden Hayward, Matteo Minozzi, Edoardo Padovani.
Photo: Six Nations/Website