Thu 06 September
RLWC2013 qualifiers Italy travel east this weekend to face Russia in game five of the Rugby League European Shield.
The current league leaders make six changes to the side that defeated Germany last time out. France-based Ray Nasso and Christophe Calegari make their first appearances since the successful 2013 World Cup qualifiers, and there’s a debut for York City Knight’s prop Dario Esposito.
Eight members of the Italy squad are European Shield 2012/13 ever-presents: Ciaurro; Cardella; Fontana; Franchi; Marchesi; Peens; Prizzon and Rancati.
Matt Sands and Fabio Nannini return from a season playing for All Saints in Liverpool, New South Wales, while sharpshooter Gert Peens will again be important after his excellent goal kicking in the clashes with Serbia and Germany.
Head coach and technical director Carlo Napolitano is eagerly anticipating the challenge. He says:
“We are currently sitting on the top of the table and we intend on doing our best to stay there for the start of the fixtures in 2013 leading into the World Cup.
“The European Shield is a part of the official selection process for the World Cup, so we are looking for good performances and a steady development from all our players.”
The match takes place at the SK NARA Stadium in Naro-Fominsk (70km south west of Moscow city).
Italy’s 18-man squad
Fabio Nannini, Matthew Sands (All Saints, Liverpool), Fabrizio Ciaurro, Thomas Piscitelli (Brescia), Remi Fontana (Cavaillon), Fabio Berzieri, Giovanni Franchi, Drake Muyodi, Davide Rancati Kelly Rolleston, (Ducato Piacenza), Stefano Cardella, Rodrigo Marchesi, Gert Peens (XIII del Duomo Milan), Christophe Calegari (Lezignan), Ray Nasso (SO Avignon), Cedric Prizzon (Villefranche de Rouergue), Dario Esposito (York City Knights), Jonathan Marcinczak (unattached).