Date: 28/10/16 (Photo Credit Ian Lovell)
Italy has picked the same 19, but Wales are forced into changes as the nations meet at the Stadio Brianteo in Monza tomorrow (Saturday), to decide the Pool A automatic qualifiers for the 2017 World Cup.
The winners will play in Group C alongside co-hosts Papua New Guinea next year, with the losers headed for the final qualifying play-off in Leigh next Friday (4 November).
The Azzurri are fresh from a comprehensive 62-14 win in Serbia for the first-ever rugby league match in the sports-mad city, with the kick off time moved to 4pm CET to accommodate a festival of rugby league, including a curtain-raiser which will see Italy ‘A’ face Belgium.
Italy head coach Cameron Ciraldo commented: “Wales are deserved favourites and have a very strong squad and a number of very talented players who are in good form.
“We are very excited to be playing at home in Monza and hopefully have a good crowd to support us. We have come together very well and I’m confident we can challenge, I believe a lot in this group.”
Terry Campese will again lead the Italian charge, the squad having come through a virus that ran through the camp this week.
Wales are forced into three changes after Ollie Olds, who suffered a broken hand in their home win over Serbia, Jake Emmitt who picked up a hamstring injury in training and Ian Newbury, who damaged a leg in their draw with Jamaica last Friday, were all ruled out.
Lewis Reece, Regan Grace and Christiaan Roets are also unable to travel so young St Helens backrower Ben Morris, Leigh prop Sam Hopkins and Hunslet playmaker Danny Ansell are all included.
“Italy are very experienced, they have a lot of talented heritage players in their squad,” said Wales coach John Kear.
“They had a good win in Serbia last weekend and looked dangerous so we know that it’s going to be a big challenge. After the disappointing draw with Jamaica which acted as a wake-up call, we’ve had a good week in training and we’ll be looking to go out there and put in a performance.
“Hopefully, that’ll be enough to get us through to next year’s World Cup.”
The nations met in the group stages of the 2013 World Cup, with Italy winning 32-16 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
The match will be live streamed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3d8XnEjJng
ITALY 19-MAN SQUAD
Dean Parata (Blacktown), Patrik Ziliotti (Brianza Tigers), Joel Reithmuller (Cairns Brothers), Jayden Walker (Cronulla Sharks), Terry Campese, (Hull KR), Christophe Calegari (Lezignan Corbieres), Guiseppe Pagani (Lions Brescia), Gavin Hiscox (Mackay Cutters), Gioele Celerino (Newcastle Thunder), Kieran Quabba (North Queensland Cowboys), Ryan Ghietti, Col Wilkie, Justin Castellaro (Northern Pride), Richard Lepori (Oldham Roughyeds), Mason Cerruto (Parramatta Eels), Shannon Wakeman (St George-Illawarra), Brenden Santi (Townsville Blackhawks), Chris Centrone (Wyong Roos), Mirco Bergamasco (unattached)
WALES 19-MAN SQUAD
Danny Ansell (Hunslet Hawks), Sam Hopkins (Leigh Centurions), Elliot Kear, Rhys Williams (London Broncos), Andrew Gay (Mackay Cutters), Joe Burke (Oldham), Phil Joseph (vice captain) Craig Kopczak (captain) (Salford Red Devils), Matty Fozard (Sheffield Eagles), Courtney Davies, Dai Evans, Connor Farrer (South Wales Ironmen), Ben Morris (St Helens), Rhodri Lloyd (Swinton Lions), Morgan Evans, Steve Parry (University of Gloucestershire All Golds), Anthony Walker (Wakefield Wildcats) and Gil Dudson, Lloyd White (Widnes Vikings)