Thursday 19 April 2018

Former Leinster fly-half Ian McKinley named in Italy squad six years after retiring from rugby

Ian McKinley of Treviso puts on his protective goggles during the Guinness PRO12 Round 10 match between Connacht and Benetton Treviso at The Sportsground in Galway. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Ian McKinley of Treviso puts on his protective goggles during the Guinness PRO12 Round 10 match between Connacht and Benetton Treviso at The Sportsground in Galway. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Former Leinster fly-half Ian McKinley has been called into the Italian squad six years after he retired from rugby following four eye operations.

McKinley, who was capped six times by Leinster after making his professional debut against Edinburgh in 2009, was forced to retire from professional rugby in 2011 following a stray boot from a teammate which perforated his left eye in a club in 2010.

He would return to club rugby briefly, before undergoing a further two operations after developing a cataract in his recovering eye, before a further operation to re-attach his retina sometime later.

The St. Mary's pivot returned to professional rugby in 2014 with the aide of specially manufactured goggles, and after stints at Viadana and Zebre, he has settled at Benetton Treviso.

The 27-year-old qualifies for Italy under residency rules and he has been drafted into Conor O'Shea's Italian squad as one of five uncapped players.

The other new faces in O'Shea's squad include full-back Matteo Minozzi, New Zealand-born centre Jayden Hayward and back-rowers Renato Giammarioli and Giovanni Licata.

Captain Sergio Parisse and hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini also return after missing out on the summer tour of Australia and Fiji.

Commenting on his selection, O'Shea said: "We have our feet on the ground and we know very well how tough the upcoming games will be.

"But we're also conscious of the fact that we're making significant progress towards our goal, which is to again become an extremely competitive team at international level."

Italy squad:

Forwards: Dario Chistolini (Zebre Rugby), Simone Ferrari (Benetton Rugby), Andrea Lovotti (Zebre Rugby), Tiziano Pasquali (Benetton Rugby), Federico Zani (Benetton Rugby), Luca Bigi (Benetton Rugby), Oliviero Fabiani (Zebre Rugby), Leonardo Ghiraldini (Toulouse/FRA), George Fabio Biagi (Zebre Rugby), Dean Budd (Benetton Rugby), Marco Fuser (Benetton Rugby), Marco Lazzaroni (Benetton Rugby), Federico Ruzza (Benetton Rugby), Renato Giammarioli (Zebre Rugby Club), Giovanni Licata (Fiamme Oro), Maxime Mata Mbanda (Zebre Rugby), Francesco Minto (Benetton Rugby), Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais/FRA), Abraham Steyn (Benetton Rugby).

Backs: Edoardo Gori (Benetton Rugby), Tito Tebaldi (Benetton Rugby), Marcello Violi (Zebre Rugby Club), Carlo Canna (Zebre Rugby), Ian McKinley (Benetton Rugby), Tommaso Benvenuti (Benetton Rugby), Tommaso Boni (Zebre Rugby), Tommaso Castello (Zebre Rugby Club), Jayden Hayward (Benetton Rugby), Mattia Bellini (Zebre Rugby), Angelo Esposito (Benetton Rugby), Leonardo Sarto (Glasgow/SCO), Giovambattista Venditti (Zebre Rugby), Matteo Minozzi (Zebre Rugby Club), Edoardo Padovani (Toulon/FRA).

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