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Former Leinster and Ireland U20 out-half McKinley called into Italy squad

The Treviso playmaker’s remarkable story in rugby continues.

FORMER LEINSTER AND Ireland U20 out-half Ian McKinley has been called into the Italy training squad ahead of their June Test series.

The 27-year-old was forced to retire from professional rugby in 2011 after losing the sight in his left eye following a training-ground accident.

Ian McKinley McKinley wears specially-designed goggles when playing. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

St. Columba’s College alumnus McKinley had shown great promise in the early stages of his career, shining for the Ireland U20s and making his senior Leinster debut under Joe Schmidt, going on to win six provincial caps in total.

Though his career had appeared to be ended by the cruel accident in 2011, McKinley subsequently made a return to playing in Italy – having initially moved there to coach – wearing specifically-designed rugby goggles to protect his working eye.

In 2013/14, he stood out for Leonorso Udine in Serie C, earning a move to the top-flight Campionato di Eccellenza league with Viadana the following season and then making an appearance for the Barbarians in 2015.

After a handful of appearances for Pro12 side Zebre in 2015/16, McKinley earned a contract with Treviso for the current campaign and has racked up 24 appearances in the Pro12 and Challenge Cup, including 14 starts.

Last month, McKinley earned a contract extension with Treviso into the 2017/18 season.

Having qualified on residency grounds, McKinley’s impressive form has now earned him a call-up to Conor O’Shea’s latest Italy squad.

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O’Shea has named 44 players in the group, which will be whittled down to 31 for the June Tests against Scotland, Fiji and Australia.

Carlo Canna and Tommaso Allan are the two other out-halves in the Azzurri training squad and both are established members of the Italy set-up.

However, McKinley will be hoping to make the final 31-man group as his remarkable story in rugby continues.

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Murray Kinsella

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