Sergio Parisse to lead Italy at Rugby World Cup in Japan
Last Updated: 19/08/19 12:52pm
Sergio Parisse will lead Italy at his fifth consecutive Rugby World Cup as Conor O'Shea announces the Azzurri's 31-man squad for next month's competition in Japan.
Head coach O'Shea said choosing his squad, and informing players who had missed out, had been the toughest job that he had faced in his rugby career.
Leonardo Ghiraldini and Alessandro Zanni, who will both be partaking in their fourth World Cup competitions, will help to form an experienced core to a youthful squad as 23 other players are set to make their Rugby World Cup debuts in Japan.
"Leo [Ghiraldini], together with Parisse and Zanni, are playing the last matches in the Italy shirt of their extraordinary careers," O'Shea said.
"We want to make their dreams come true and we have the cards to be able to succeed."
Sergio Parisse's Rugby World Cup appearances
The No 8 made his tournament debut as a replacement against New Zealand in 2003.
He's only the third player to reach a tally of five consecutive Rugby World Cup competitions alongside Mauro Bergamasco and Brian Lima.
The Azzurri open their World Cup campaign on September 22 and are pitched in Pool B alongside their first opponents, Namibia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa.
O'Shea believes that the improvement he has seen since taking over in 2016 means that Italy have a chance of progressing out of the pool if they perform at their very best.
"Compared to when I started my journey here, we now definitely have a better team, with more internal competition and much-improved performances," the head coach said.
"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.
In O'Shea's first year in charge, Italy beat South Africa 20-18 in Florence but haven't come close to New Zealand in 15 attempts.
They prevailed over Russia 85-15 on Saturday and will now face France at the end of August before travelling to St James' Park to play against England on September 6, live on Sky Sports.
Italy are currently ranked 13th in the world. They have been present at every Rugby World Cup competition since 1987 but have recorded 11 wins and 17 loses during their eight campaigns.
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.