Home Rugby Irish Out-half Named In Italy Matchday Squad To Face Fiji

Irish Out-half Named In Italy Matchday Squad To Face Fiji

Guinness PRO12, Rodney Parade, Newport, Wales 6/1/2017 Newport Gwent Dragons vs Benetton Treviso Benetton Treviso's Ian McKinley Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Camersport/Ian Cook

Former Ireland under-20 international Ian McKinley could finally receive his first senior cap this weekend, six years after he was forced into early retirement.

The out-half has been called up by Italy coach Conor O’Shea for this weekend’s test match against Fiji, taking his place among the replacements in the 23-man panel.

The 27-year-old has been named in Italy squads, such as the 44-man group for the recent summer tests, and could now complete a remarkable career resurrection with an appearance for the Azzurri in Catania on Saturday.

A promising member of the Leinster squad at the end of the last decade, McKinley’s career appeared to be over after he lost the sight in his left eye in a freak training game incident in 2011.

He later returned the game in a playing capacity three years later, having initially embarked on a coaching career, in the lower Italian leagues using special protective goggles, and his performances with Leonorso and Viadana were suitably strong enough that top-level sides Zebre and Benetton took a chance on him – a punt that has evidently paid off for all parties concerned with qualification for Italy coming under the residency ruling.

Italy’s clash with Fiji is the first of a three-part test series, with much harder challenges against Argentina and South Africa to follow the two following Saturdays.

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