Rugby World Cup 2015: Italy name 40-man squad
Jacques Brunel opts for experience in as he prepares to bow out as Azzurri head coach in October
Jacques Brunel has named a 40-man training squad as Italy prepare for the 2015 Rugby World Cup in September and October.
The 61-year-old head coach, who takes charge of his final tournament before stepping down four years after succeeding Nick Mallet, has named centurion forwards Martin Castrogiovanni, Marco Bortolami and Mauro Bergamasco, with the latter calling time on his professional career after the tournament.
We expect an exciting and challenging three months to be ready for September 19 at Twickenham against France, and I’m sure everyone will do their best to snatch a ticket to what promises to be a special edition of the Rugby World Cup.
Talisman Sergio Parisse returns to captain the side, but the Stade Français number eight and Toulon prop Castrogiovanni will join up with the squad late due to their involvement in the Top 14 semi-finals.
Brunel has named just two uncapped players in the main squad of 40 with Benetton Treviso wing Simone Ragusi and Zebre scrum-half Marcello Violi.
The squad also features nine players from English clubs including Leicester Tigers forwards Michele Rizzo and Leonardo Ghiraldini, experienced Wasps full-back Andrea Masi and newcomers Samuela Vunisa (Saracens), Michele Campagnaro (Exeter Chiefs) and Giovanbattista Venditti (Newcastle Falcons) also making the initial cut.
“We selected the players for the camp in Villabassa who we have worked with in recent seasons,” said Brunel.
“We expect an exciting and challenging three months to be ready for September 19 at Twickenham against France, and I’m sure everyone will do their best to snatch a ticket to what promises to be a special edition of the Rugby World Cup.”
Brunel will narrow down his squad to the final 31 on announce his final 31-strong squad on Sunday 9 August before they embark on warm-up matches against Scotland in Torino and Edinburgh, as well as Wales in Cardiff at the beginning of September.
Italy training squad (40):
Matías Agüero (Unattached – released by Zebre), Robert Barbieri (Treviso), Marco Barbini (Treviso), Valerio Bernabò (Zebre), Mauro Bergamasco (Unattached – retiring after RWC), George Biagi (Zebre), Marco Bortolami (Zebre), Martin Castrogiovanni (Toulon), Dario Chistolini (Zebre), Lorenzo Cittadini (Wasps), Alberto De Marchi (Benetton Treviso), Joshua Furno (Newcastle Falcons), Marco Fuser (Treviso), Leonardo Ghiraldini (Leicester Tigers), Quintin Geldenhuys (Zebre), Davide Giazzon (Treviso), Simone Favaro (Glasgow Warriors), Andrea Manici (Zebre), Francesco Minto (Treviso), Sergio Parisse (Stade Français), Michele Rizzo (Leicester), Samuela Vunisa (Saracens), Alessandro Zanni (Treviso)
Tommaso Allan (Perpignan), Enrico Bacchin (Treviso), Tommaso Benvenuti (Bristol), Michele Campagnaro (Exeter Chiefs), Angelo Esposito (Treviso), Gonzalo Garcia (Zebre), Edoardo Gori (Treviso), Kelly Haimona (Zebre), Andrea Masi (Wasps), Luke McLean (Treviso), Luca Morisi (Treviso), Guglielmo Palazzani (Zebre), Simone Ragusi (Treviso), Leonardo Sarto (Zebre), Giovanbattista Venditti (Newcastle Falcons), Marcello Violi (Zebre), Michele Visentin (Zebre)
Reserve players (10):
Tommaso Boni (Zebre), Carlo Canna (Zebre), Leandro Cedaro (La Rochelle), Tommaso D’Apice (Zebre), Andrea De Marchi (Zebre), Paul Derbyshire (Zebre), Andrea Lovotti (Zebre), Alberto Lucchese (Treviso), Alberto Sgarbi (Treviso), Giulio Toniolatti (Zebre).