Gower gets Italy call
Quins new fly-half selected for World Cup qualifiers
Last Updated: September 23, 2011 10:20am
Harlequins new boy Craig Gower has been called up to Italy's squad for next month's 2013 World Cup European zone qualifiers.
The 33-year-old stand-off is set make his debut against against Russia in Padova on October 15 in the first match of a round-robin tournament which also includes Serbia and Lebanon.
Gower, who won 18 caps with Australia during a 10-year career with Penrith Panthers, joined Quins recently on a two year contract.
The controversial fly-half returned to rugby league after switching codes in 2008 to play with French Top 14 club Bayonne.
Gower, who qualifies through his Italian grandfather, also became a regular in Italy's six-nations team over the last four seasons.
Italy will jointly captained by another former Kangaroo, full-back Anthony Minichello, and Cameron Ciraldo, of Newcastle Knights.
Prop Christophe Borlin, who was in France's 2008 World Cup squad and has played in the Championship for Doncaster and Toulouse, has also been called up to the Azzuri squad.
And further experience will be provided by former Crusaders forward Rocky Trimarchi, who now plies his trade with Western Suburbs in Sydney.
Wakefield prop Liam Higgins has pulled out of Serbia's squad due to the imminent birth of his first child.
Serbia's technical director Lee Crooks will now have to rely largely on players from the country's fledgling domestic competition.
"Both myself and Marko Jankovic, our head coach, are looking forward to the challenge which lies ahead of us, "said the former Hull, Castleford, Leeds and Great Britain forward
"I am sure that I can speak on behalf of the Serbian Board when I say how proud we are that 27 of our 30-man squad play in the Serbian domestic league which is a massive plus for how far the competition has come in a short time."
Canberra's Adam Nedic, is one of seven uncapped players in the Serbian squad and one of only three overseas selections
The 19-year-old is joined by Oldham hooker Austen Novakovic and Ilija Radan who plays at Hemel Hempstead.
The star of Lebanon's 2007 qualifying campaign George Ndaira has also withdrawn due to work commitments but they can still call on a smattering of Australia-based players.
Player-coach Eduard Ososkov, who is set to win his 11th cap, and captain Alexandr Lysokon, who made eight appearances for Yorkshire amateur club Sharlston Rovers in 2011, are among 14 players from RC Vereya in the 30-man Russian squad.
The winner of the six-match series will join Scotland and Tonga in group B of the 2013 World Cup to be staged in England and Wales.