Bergamasco returns for Italy in RWC squad
Italy head coach Nick Mallett has unveiled the 30-man squad charged with achieving the Azzurri’s best ever performance on the Rugby World Cup stage in New Zealand.
Mallett, who will be succeeded as head coach by Jacques Brunel after the tournament, broke the news to the squad on Friday at their camp in Villabassa, close to the Austrian border, ending the dreams of six players.
Uncapped prop Alberto de Marchi, second rows Joshua Furno and Valerio Bernabò, number 8 Manoa Vosawai, fly half Kris Burton and young centre Andrea Pratichetti are the ones to miss out on the trip to New Zealand.
There are, though, two uncapped players in the squad in hooker Tommaso D’Apice – one of four members to have come through the Federazione Italiana Rugby academy system – and veteran lock Cornelius van Zyl.
Mallett also welcomes back the experienced Mauro Bergamasco, who last played for the Azzurri in the 2010 Six Nations. The flanker returned from a long injury absence to play for Italy A in last month’s Churchill Cup in England.
Knockout phase the target
The elder Bergamasco will, along with prop Andrea Lo Cicero, be playing in his fourth Rugby World Cup, in contrast to nearly half of the squad who will be appearing on the sport’s greatest stage for the first time.
“It has not been an easy decision at all,” admitted Mallett. “I’d like to thank on behalf of the whole staff the six guys who won’t travel to New Zealand for their great efforts.
“De Marchi, Furno and Pratichetti are very young and talented players and I’ve no doubt they will make their international debut soon, but a Rugby World Cup needs experienced players and it is my job to take decisions and line up the best team.
“This team has been built up over the last four years, and we’ve no doubts this is the best team to bring to the southern hemisphere in September ... we will move to New Zealand to reach the knockout phase.”
Inspirational number 8 Sergio Parisse will lead Italy’s quest to reach the quarter finals for the first time from a Pool C which features Australia, Ireland, USA and first time qualifiers Russia.
The squad will regroup on 31 July to prepare for two warm-up matches against Japan in Cesena on 13 August and Scotland in Edinburgh a week later before making the trip down to New Zealand.
Italy squad for RWC 2011
Forwards: Martin Castrogiovanni, Lorenzo Cittadini, Andrea Lo Cicero, Salvatore Perugini, Tommaso D’Apice, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Fabio Ongaro, Marco Bortolami, Carlo Antonio del Fava, Quintin Geldenhuys, Cornelius van Zyl, Robert Barbieri, Mauro Bergamasco, Paul Derbyshire, Sergio Parisse (Captain), Alessandro Zanni.
Backs: Pablo Canavosio, Edoardo Gori, Fabio Semenzato, Ricardo Bocchino, Luciano Orquera, Tommaso Benvenuti, Mirco Bergamasco, Gonzalo Canale, Gonzalo Garcia, Andrea Masi, Luke McLean, Matteo Pratichetti, Alberto Sgarbi, Giulio Toniolatti.
- South Africa
- New Zealand