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Italy head coach Kieran Crowley explains Sergio Parisse omission

Sergio Parisse

Italy head coach Kieran Crowley has explained that he wants Sergio Parisse to get some game time with Toulon under his belt before a return to the national team.

Parisse last played for Italy at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but at 38 years old, the Azzurri rugby legend is still playing club rugby with Toulon and recently expressed his desire to play for his national team again.

The 142-times capped Italy international will retire from professional rugby at the end of the season, but is aiming to play at least one more time for his country. However, Parisse was not included in Italy’s latest squad.

Crowley was speaking to ON Rugby about Parisse’s omission and explained that he is planning to reintroduce the number eight to Italy’s squad later on in the Six Nations.

Kieran Crowley on Sergio Parisse’s omission.

“I recently spoke with Sergio. He is back after his hand injury. He was playing very well in the first part of the season, then he had to stop, returned to play and played 60 minutes as a starter, in a game in which he played reasonably well,” Crowley said, translated from Italian.

“He did not play the match against the Zebre instead, because they wanted to save him for a couple of important matches in the league, but then they were postponed. When I spoke to him he told me that he would like to play again and regain confidence.

“Toulon now has two Challenge Cup games in the coming weeks, so when we play France in the Six Nations they will play Castres and when we play England they will have Bordeaux, so it’s a bit of a run-up.

“We have thought about it, we have discussed it and we have decided that it is better for him to return to the field with his club, to put together a few minutes of play and then we will consider him for the next call-up, Ireland, or for the last one, the first of the last two matches of the Six Nations. For now, however, I can say that we are on the same wavelength.”

Italy last won a Six Nations game in 2015.

The Italians have had a torrid time in the Six Nations in recent years, having failed to win a match in the last six championships.

Former Benetton boss Crowley was announced as Italy’s new head coach in May last year, and saw his side end a 16-game losing streak in November, as they beat Uruguay 17-10.

Much greater challenges lie ahead though, and Italy will need to improve on their form in November in order to end their 32-game losing streak in the Six Nations.

There are some impressive young players coming through Italy’s ranks, such as captain Michele Lamaro and fly-half Paolo Garbisi, but they are a side seriously lacking in confidence.

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