Ian McKinley on the verge of remarkable international debut after being named in Italy squad to face Fiji
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.
Subscribe to The Left Wing, Independent.ie's Rugby podcast, with Luke Fitzgerald and Will Slattery for the best discussion and analysis each week. From in depth interviews with some of Irish rugby's biggest stars to unmatched insights into the provinces and the national team, The Left Wing has all your rugby needs covered.
Who is your sportstar of the year?
Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.
Prizes include, a trip to Old Trafford to watch Man United take on Liverpool in the Premier League, tickets to Ireland's home games in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.