Talisman Parisse set to join World Cup squad

Italy captain Sergio Parisse will give his team-mates a welcome boost by finally joining the World Cup squad on Tuesday but is still not certain to play in the key game against Ireland.

Talisman Parisse set to join World Cup squad
Italy talisman Sergio Parisse is set to join the Italy squad later today. Photo: Garbriel Bouys

The return of the inspirational No 8 will sow a few doubts in the Ireland camp ahead of Sunday's game in which they could secure a quarter final place from Pool D.

The 32-year-old underwent an operation the week before the World Cup began to drain a haematoma on an injured right calf.

A specialist in Paris cleared him on Monday to join the squad, the Italian rugby federation said.

“Parisse will continue therapy at the training camp in England and later in the week will be evaluated to see if he is ready fo the test of the World Cup match against Ireland on Sunday,” said a statement.

Parisse is the one player who can turn the Italians from the sloppy unit they appeared in a heavy loss to France and a narrow victory over Canada into a team ready to challenge Ireland, the Six Nations champions' skipper Paul O'Connell said.

“Parisse makes a massive difference for them, he's obviously a world-class player,” said O'Connell.
The Irish have looked in impressive form in Pool D, dispensing easily of Canada, 50-5. Then a revamped XV coasted to a 44-10 victory over Romania.

Now, though, they face their toughest two encounters against Italy and a top of the table showdown with France. A win over the Italians at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday would see them qualify for the last eight.

Parisse will undoubtedly have an impact if he plays, according to O'Connell.

“A lot of their defensive and attacking lineouts run around him, we talked about having 100 per cent set-piece (against Romania) – it's going to be a lot harder to do that against Italy.

“Around the field he can produce that something different, that maybe the teams in the last two weeks haven't had. So we've got to be ready for that,” added O'Connell.

O'Connell's second row partner Devin Toner also said Parisse had the ability to transform the Italian side.
“Parisse would definitely change the dynamic,” said Toner, who stands at a whopping 2.08m (6ft 8in).
“He controls the lineout, he owns it, he calls it: so he's a real threat if he does play.
“But he's the talisman, he spurs everything good about Italy. So if he does play it would be a coup for them. You never want to see players injured of course.”

“I'm sure the neutrals want to see him play but I don't know if we do to be honest!” added the 29-year-old.

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Italy’s Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report

Ex-PM Matteo Renzi would like to see former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi become prime minister of Italy, a party source told Reuters on Sunday.

Italy's Renzi wants ex-ECB boss Draghi to become prime minister: report
Matteo Renzi. Image: Andreas Solaro/ POOL / AFP

“I would say that is one of our proposals,” confirmed the source, who declined to be named.

The Italian government collapsed last week when PM Giuseppe Conte resigned. The former coalition allies are currently trying to come to an agreement and sort out their differences.

The centre-left government had been in turmoil ever since former premier Matteo Renzi withdrew his Italia Viva party earlier this month, a move that forced Conte to step down this week.

During the past year, Renzi frequently criticised Conte’s management of the pandemic and economic crisis.

Italy’s La Stampa newspaper also reported on Sunday that President Sergio Mattarella was considering Draghi for the prime ministerial role. However, Mattarella’s office promptly denied this, saying there had been no contact between them.

So far, there has been no comment from Draghi, who hasn't been seen much in the public eye since 2019.

Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, gave ruling parties more time on Friday to form a new government, after the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. 

Coalition parties Italia Viva, the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and anti-establishment 5-Star Movement must come to an agreement to allow the government to heal. 

Renzi, a former prime minister himself, has pubilcly stated that he does not want to talk about who should lead the next government at this stage, reasoning that the parties need to agree on a way forward first.

“Any effort today to fuel a discussion about Draghi is offensive to Draghi and above all to the president of the republic,” Renzi said in an interview published on Sunday with Corriere della Sera.

A senior Italia Viva lawmaker also told Reuters that “If the president gives a mandate to Draghi, we would certainly support this”. 

Renzi, whose party is not even registering three percent support in opinion polls, quit the coalition over Conte’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and his plans for spending more than 200 billion euros from a European Union fund to help Italy’s damaged economy.

READ ALSO: Why do Italy's governments collapse so often?