Italy captain Sergio Parisse admits 2019 could be his final Six Nations
By Sam Martin
Last Updated: 23/01/19 3:17pm
Italy captain Sergio Parisse is contemplating whether the 2019 Six Nations will be his last.
Parisse, who made his Italy debut in 2003, is the longest-serving national captain in rugby history, having skippered his country in 86 Tests.
Speaking at the launch of the Six Nations, Parisse said: "Maybe, maybe this is my last year, but I still have a lot of energy."
The 35-year-old lies behind only Brian O'Driscoll in terms of Six Nations minutes played and appearances made across his career.
Parisse has 134 caps for Italy, which puts him joint-fourth all-time in rugby's list of most-capped players, alongside Gethin Jenkins of Wales.
Only Richie McCaw (148), O'Driscoll (141) and George Gregan (139) have more.
Parisse has been nominated for two World Player of the Year awards - in 2008 and 2013 - during his glittering career.
In 2016 he almost called it quits after feeling a lack of motivation under coach Jacques Brunel. But later that year, Conor O'Shea took over the Italy reins and rejuvenated Parisse.
"Conor arrived with a lot of energy, with the idea not just to be the coach of the Italian team but to be the director of rugby in Italy," Parisse said.
Parisse speaks passionately of his friendship with O'Shea and hopes the pair can continue to work together for the benefit of Italian rugby after he stops playing.
"I want to leave a legacy and give to Italian rugby a lot of things on the field, but work with Conor in the background to try and help players in Italy improve," he said.
Italy have lost 10 out of 10 Six Nations matches under O'Shea but Parisse is hopeful they can reverse that trend when he leads the side out in their opening Six Nations game against Scotland in Edinburgh on February 2.
The No 8 said: "It's going to be a crucial first performance. We want to achieve results."