Italy have called up Gloucester scrum-half Callum Braley for this month’s Rugby World Cup warm-up matches against Ireland and Russia. The former England youth player is one of three uncapped players named in head coach Conor O’Shea’s 38-man squad. Braley, who qualifies through his Italian grandfather, was called-up during this year’s Six Nations, but did not play.
The 25-year-old Bristol-born back will compete against Guglielmo Palazzani and Tito Tebaldi for a place in the Azzurri side as he looks to secure a ticket to the World Cup in Japan. Other newcomers are Benneton Rugby prop Marco Riccioni, 21, and his club mate, hooker Engjel Makelara, 22, while the squad will be captained by experienced loose-forward Sergio Parisse.
But 104-cap hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini, who ruptured knee ligaments in March, is absent although he is still hopeful of proving his fitness for the World Cup. “These matches are crucial for achieving the objectives that we set ourselves for the Rugby World Cup,” Italy coach Conor O’Shea told the Italian federation’s website. “It is not an easy task for any player to start the season with a test match, but it is the challenge that all teams are facing. The boys have worked incredibly hard in the summer and now are ready for the matches.”