NRL stars James Tedesco, Paul Vaughan, Nathan Brown, Aidan Guerra, Daniel Alvaro and Josh Aloiai have been named in Italy’s train-on squad for the Rugby League World Cup, which also includes Terry Campese and Jack Johns.
The squad, which will be reduced to 24 players before 13 October, is drawn from players in Australia, England and France, as well as the domestic Italian competition.
Among them are Tedesco (Wests Tigers) and Vaughan (St George Illawarra), who are also under consideration for Australia but have pledged their allegiances to Italy if not chosen by the Kangaroos, along with Guerra (Sydney Roosters), Aloiai (Tigers), Brown and Alvaro (both Parramatta).
Mark Minichiello joins Campese and fellow former Hull KR team-mate Josh Mantellato in the 54-man squad, which also includes Wigan centre Oliver Gildart and Huddersfield prop Shannon Wakeman.
Also in the Azzurri squad is Johns, the son of Matthew Johns, who plays for Newcastle Knights Under 20s, along with Canterbury’s Joe Tramontana, Manly’s Luke Polselli, Nathan Milone from Wests Tigers and Cronulla Jayden Walker and Ryan King.
Others named by Italy coach Cameron Ciraldo include Penrith NSW Cup fullback Mason Cerruto, who will line-up for the Panthers in Sunday’s Interstate Challenge against the PNG Hunters, which will be played before the NRL grand final.
Brendon Santi and Chris Centrone from the Wyong Roos team which won the NSW Cup minor premiership but lost last weekend’s grand final, are also in the squad, along with Alec Susino from Mounties and Blacktown’s Dean Parata.
The squad features eight Queensland Cup players, Colin Wilkie, Joel Riethmuller, Ryan Ghietti, Justin Castellaro and Jack Campagnolo (Northern Pride), Gavin Hiscox (Central Queensland Capras), Kieran Quabba (Townsville Blackhawks) and Matt Parata (Souths Logan Magpies).
Also included are Italian players Gioele Celerino, Simone Boscolo and Edoardo Pezzano , who played this for Tully Tigers in the Cairns competition.
Of the 19 Italy-based players, the one most likely to be in the final squad for the World Cup is dual code international Mirco Bergamasco, who played 89 rugby union Tests, including three Rugby World Cups.
Bergamasco, who has represented the Azzurri in four league Tests, has also played rugby union in France for Stade Français and Racing Métro.
Italy Training Squad
Aidan Guerra (Sydney Roosters); Alberto Mariani (Brianza Tigers), Alec Susino (Mounties), Alex Mammone (Halifax), Alvise Rigo (Leoni Venetians), Brenden Santi (Sydney Roosters/Wyong Roos), Chris Centrone (Wyong Roos), Colin Wilkie (Northern Pride), Christophe Calegari (Palau XIII Broncos), Daniel Alvaro (Parramatta Eels), Fabio Borina (Spartans Catania), Dean Parata (Blacktown Workers), Edoardo Pezzano (Spartans Catania/Tully Tigers), Emanuele Passera (XIII of the Ducato), Fabrizio Ciaurro (XIII of the Ducato), Gavin Hiscox (Central Queensland Capras), Gioele Celerino (Saluzzo NWR/Tully Tigers), Giorgio Draghi (Brianza Tigers), Giuseppe Pagani (Lions Brescia), Ismail Byaoui (Lions Brescia), Jack Campagnolo (Northern Pride), Jack Johns (Newcastle Knights), James Tedesco (Wests Tigers), JaydenWalker (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), Jaume Giorgis (Saluzzo NWR), Joe Tramontana (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Joel Riethmuller (Northern Pride), Josh Aloiai (Wests Tigers), Josh Mantellato (Wyong Roos), Justin Castellaro (Northern Pride), Kieran Quabba (Townsville Districts Blackhawks), Lorenzo Leandro (Lions Brescia), Lucas Bruzzone (Saluzzo NWR), Luis Lollo (Brianza Tigers), Luke Polselli (Manly Sea Eagles), Mark Minichiello (Hull FC), Mason Cerruto (Penrith Panthers/St Marys), Matt Parata (Souths Logan Magpies), Mirco Bergamasco (Leoni Veneti), Nathan Brown (Parramatta Eels), Nathan Milone (Wests Tigers), Oliver Gildart (Wigan Warriors), Davide Spinnato (XIII Lovers Palermo), Patrick Ziliotti (Brianza Tigers), Richard Lepori (Oldham Roughyeds), Paul Vaughan (St George Illawarra Dragons), Ryan Ghietti (Northern Pride), Ryan King (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), Ryan Tramonte (Windsor Wolves), Igor Gianmario (Spartans Catania), Shannon Wakeman (Huddersfield Giants), Simone Boscolo (Leoni Veneto/Tully Tigers), Terry Campese (Queanbeyan Blues), Tommaso Nicoli (Leoni Venetians).