Wednesday 21 February 2018

Ian McKinley on the verge of remarkable international debut after being named in Italy squad to face Fiji

Ian McKinley. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Ian McKinley. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Treviso out-half Ian McKinley is set to make his international debut for Italy this weekend six years after first retiring from rugby after losing sight in one eye.

The gifted playmaker was a rising star under Joe Schmidt at Leinster when the injury occurred, forcing the then 21-year-old to hang up his boots.

However, he later returned to the sport in 2014 wearing special protective goggles, and has worked his way up from the Italian third division to the PRO 14 with Treviso.

Conor O'Shea called him into his Italy squad ahead of the November internationals and now McKinley is within touching distance of completing his astounding comeback after being named in the 23 for Saturday's clash with Fiji.

McKinley will hope to replace Zebre out-half Carlo Canna at some stage on Saturday for his first cap for the Azzurri.

ITALY (v Fiji): Jayden Hayward; Leonardo Sarto, Tommaso Boni, Tomasso Castello, Mattia Bellini; Carlo Canna, Marcello Violi, Andrea Lovotti, Luca Bigi, Simone Ferrari; Marco Fuser, Dean Budd; Francesco Minto, Abraham Steyn, Sergio Parisse.

Replacements: Leonardo Ghiraldini, Federico Zani, Dario Chistolini, Marco Lazzaroni, Giovanni Licara, Edoardo Gori, Ian McKinley, Matteo Minozzi.

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