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McKinley misses out as Conor O'Shea names Italy squad for June Tests

The former Leinster man was part of the Italians’ wider training group ahead of the tour.

FORMER LEINSTER OUT-half Ian McKinley has narrowly missed out on making Italy’s 31-man squad for the summer Tests against Scotland, Fiji and Australia.

Ian McKinley McKinley guided Treviso into the Champions Cup last weekend. Source: Giuseppe Fama/INPHO

McKinley last week continued his remarkable rise through the game by being called into Italy’s extended training squad ahead of the tour, having excelled for Treviso in the Guinness Pro12 this season.

Last weekend, the 27-year-old guided his Italian club to Champions Cup qualification for next season with a derby win against Zebre on the final day of the championship’s regular season.

Italy head coach Conor O’Shea this afternoon confirmed his 31-man touring party and though McKinley – who qualifies under residency laws – misses out to Tommaso Allan and Carlo Canna with just two out-halves named in the squad, his involvement in the wider group is a major achievement.

McKinley was forced to retire from professional rugby in 2011 after losing sight in his left eye, but he has returned in inspirational fashion in Italy in recent years, now wearing protective goggles while playing to protect his working eye.

The former Ireland U20 playmaker will naturally be next in line should Italy need out-half cover during their tour, which sees them play in Singapore against Scotland, Suva against the Fijians and then Brisbane versus the Wallabies.

McKinley will also hope to make a strong impression next season for Treviso, having extended his contract with Kieran Crowley’s side, and will look to push into contention for Italy honours again in November and in next year’s Six Nations.

O’Shea has gone for a settled-looking Italy squad this summer, although there are four uncapped players including New Zealand native Dean Budd, who qualifies under residency laws.

Front rows Luca Bigi, Luhandre Luus and  Tiziano Pasquali are the other players who will be hoping for their Italy debuts, while scrum-half Tito Tebaldi returns to the squad after three three years’ absence.

Sergio Parisse is among a group of senior players rested this summer, along with Leonardo Ghiraldini, Simone Favaro and Lorenzo Cittadini.

 Italy 31-man 2017 summer tour squad: 

Props:

Pietro Ceccarelli (Zebre), Simone Ferrari (Treviso, 2 caps), Andrea Lovotti (Zebre, 14 caps), Sami Panico (Calvisano, 10 caps), Tiziano Pasquali (Treviso)*.

Hookers:

Luca Bigi (Treviso)*, Ornel Gega (Treviso), Luhandre Luus (Calvisano) *.

Second rows:

George Fabio Biaga (Zebre), Dean Budd (Treviso)*, Marco Fuser (Treviso), Federico Ruzza (Zebre), Andries van Schalkwyk (Zebre).

Back rows:

Robert Julian Barbieri (Treviso), Maxime Mbanda (Zebre), Francesco Minto (Treviso), Abraham Jurgen Steyn (Treviso).

Halfbacks:

Edoardo Gori (Treviso), Tito Tebaldi (Treviso), Marcello Violi (Zebre), Tommaso Allan (Treviso), Carlo Canna (Zebre).

Centres:

Tommaso Benvenuti (Treviso), Tommaso Boni (Zebre), Michele Campagnaro (Exeter Chiefs).

Back threes:

Giulio Bisegni (Zebre), Angelo Espositio (Treviso), Leonardo Sarto (Glasgow Warriors)
Giovanbattista Venditti (Zebre), Edoardo Padovani (Zebre), Luca Sperandio (Treviso).

* denotes uncapped

- This article was updated to signify that Sergio Parisse is among the senior players to have been rested by Italy.

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