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SIPA USA/PA Images Parisse is ready to lead Italy in his fifth World Cup.
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Parisse set for record-equalling World Cup as O'Shea names Italy squad
Ian McKinley misses out on a place in the Azzurri’s squad for Japan.

SERGIO PARISSE WILL captain Italy at his record-equalling fifth World Cup next month, but Ian McKinley has missed out on a place in Conor O’Shea’s final 31-man squad.

Talismanic number eight Parisse made his return to action on Saturday as Italy hammered Russia in their second warm-up outing, and 16 years after making his World Cup debut, the 35-year-old will lead the Azzurri in Japan. 

Parisse came off the bench against New Zealand in Melbourne in 2003 and is still a key player for Italy as they prepare for their campaign opener against Namibia on Sunday 22 September.

There is disappointment for former Leinster out-half McKinley, however, as he fails to make the cut having won nine caps over the last two years, but hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini is included despite suffering a serious knee injury in the Six Nations.

Parisse, Ghiraldini and Alessandro Zanni are the most experienced members of an otherwise youthful squad named by O’Shea, with Italy paired in Pool B alongside New Zealand and South Africa.

“Choosing the 31 players for the Rugby World Cup and talking to those who will not continue the adventure with us was probably the hardest thing I have done since I’ve been in the rugby world,” O’Shea said.

“It is a dream for everyone to represent Italy at the World Cup. It’s hard because everyone deserved to be here.

“Now all the boys have an extra responsibility for the jersey they wear, for the fans and for all the players who stayed at home.”

Italy will finalise their preparations with warm-up games against France in Paris on 30 August and against England in Newcastle on 6 September before flying to Japan. 

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Italy squad:

Forwards: Simone Ferrari, Andrea Lovotti, Tiziano Pasquali, Nicola Quaglio, Marco Riccioni, Federico Zani, Luca Bigi, Oliviero Fabiani, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Dean Budd, Federico Ruzza, David Sisi, Alessandro Zanni, Maxime Mbanda, Sebastian Negri, Sergio Parisse, Jake Polledri, Abraham Steyn

Backs: Callum Braley, Guglielmo Palazzani, Tito Tebaldi, Tommaso Allan, Carlo Canna, Tommaso Benvenuti, Michele Campagnaro, Luca Morisi, Mattia Bellini, Giulio Bisegni, Jayden Hayward, Matteo Minozzi, Edoardo Padovani.

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