Italy centre Luca Morisi has heaped praise on the positive impact that Ian McKinley has had on the Azzurri squad since he made his debut for his adopted nation last year.
The Dubliner is set to play against his home country in Chicago on Saturday and his team-mates have nothing but admiration for where he has come from after he lost the sight in his left eye during a club game in Ireland back in 2011.
The out-half's season has been blighted by injury but Conor O'Shea has named McKinley amongst the replacements for the clash at Soldier Field. The 28-year-old former Leinster player won all three of his international caps last November and he is set to add to that in the coming weeks.
"Ian is a lovely guy, I love the way he is," Morisi said. "He can joke with us every day but at the same time he can be like a coach because of his experience in coaching Udine.
"He has a strong mindset too because of what's happened to him. He knows where he wants to go.
"He's an example every day when you see what he has done. It's incredible."
Morisi also spoke about Conor O'Shea's influence as Italy head coach as he pointed to the improvements that Italian rugby have made across the board since the ex-Ireland international took over the role two years ago.
"He brings a different view of things," the 16-times-capped Treviso midfielder added.
"Conor came from Ireland and they way they work is pretty different from what we have done before. He brought Peter Atkinson for the physical preparation side, he brought Mike Catt from England, he won a World Cup, so it's useful experience for us to improve our game and grow as people.
"He's helped to change Italian rugby's structure. We need more time to absorb that."
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