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O'Shea leaves Italian door open for Castrogiovanni despite Vegas controversy

The Racing 92 prop was suspended by his club for partying with Paris Saint-Germain players last month.

Martin Castrogiovanni pictured on a trip to Las Vegas with Paris Saint-Germain players including Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Martin Castrogiovanni pictured on a trip to Las Vegas with Paris Saint-Germain players including Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Image: Twitter

ITALY HEAD COACH Conor O’Shea has left the door open to Martin Castrogiovanni but invited the veteran prop to clarify his future following a recent suspension for a sneaky trip to Las Vegas.

Castrogiovanni was suspended by Racing 92 after being caught partying in ‘Sin City’ with stars from the Paris Saint-Germain football team.

At the time, he was supposed to be in Nottingham to support his team in the European Champions Cup semi-final against Leicester, and was only caught when PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic posted photographs of him on his Instagram account.

It has left a cloud over the 34-year-old prop’s future — both at club and on the international level. And while O’Shea “knows” Castrogiovanni’s thoughts, he invited him to make them public.

“I’ll leave that to Martin to talk about what his thoughts are,” O’Shea told AFP at his official unveiling in Milan today. “Again, he’s one of the great players, a great man I’ve known for a long time. I’ve spoken to him, before the [PSG] photographs, I know exactly what his thoughts are, and it’s up to him to talk to people. But he will be an important part of Italian rugby, full stop.”

Asked if that meant Castrogiovanni would remain with the Azzurri, O’Shea said: “As long as he’s available, he will always be considered. But that’s his decision and I’m just looking forward to working with him at some stage.”

O’Shea underlined ambitious plans to transform a battered and demoralised Italy into “the best Italian team ever” with the focus on “fitness, mentality and nutrition”. But while he is looking at injecting fresh life into the Azzurri, he has left the door open to “experienced players”. He expects Sergio Parisse, Italy’s stand-out player over the past decade, to be on form to lead them to the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

Italy Rugby O'Shea Conor O'Shea during his first news conference as Italy head coach today in Milan. Source: Luca Bruno

“He will only be 36, younger than Brad Thorn [was] when he played for New Zealand in a World Cup final, and younger than Nicky Easter when he scored a hat-trick for England,” added O’Shea.

O’Shea, formerly the director of rugby at English side Harlqeuins, added: “I managed Nick well in the last four years to get him to this [2015] World Cup, when no one said he could get there. Sergio will have no problems.”

Parisse, Francesco Minto and Alessandro Zanni were all rested for Italy’s summer tour of the Americas next month when they face Argentina, Canada and the United States.

It will give the 45-year-old Irishman the chance to run the rule over some younger faces in the squad, but all the while he will be hoping Parisse’s never-say-die approach to the game rubs off.

Describing the kind of mentality he wants to instill, he said: “It’s about not accepting defeat, coming back from adversity and how you react when things get tough. That is what Sergio brings to the game. He never accepts defeat but still comes back with a fresh attitude. Every player should be like this.”

© AFP 2016

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