Sergio Parisse will lead an Italy squad that includes Leonardo Ghiraldini, fit again following a serious knee injury, at this year’s Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Director of rugby Conor O’Shea confirmed his list of 31 names on Monday, with Ghiraldini selected after recovering from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament sustained during the Six Nations in March.
The hooker has won 104 caps for his country but is currently without a club. He will serve as a vice-captain to Parisse, who is set to appear in a fifth edition of the tournament.
O’Shea has also included Wasps full-back Matteo Minozzi after he scored a hat-trick of tries in Sunday’s resounding 85-15 win over Russia, as well as Gloucester’s Bristol-born scrum-half Callum Braley.
“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,” said O’Shea.
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) August 18, 2019
The Azzurri are in Pool B alongside reigning champions New Zealand, South Africa, Namibia and Canada.
“Compared to when I started my journey here, we now definitely have a better team, with more internal competition and much-improved performances,” added O’Shea.
“Recently, we have shown that we can play against the top teams when we play our best game.
“At the World Cup we absolutely must win against Namibia and Canada and then focus on the other two big challenges we have. I believe that against South Africa, with this team, we can create an opportunity on our day.”
Before the tournament, Italy are scheduled to play Tests against France and England on August 30 and September 6 respectively.
Italy’s 31-man squad for the Rugby World Cup:
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 (capt), 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