Monday 11 December 2017

Inspirational Ian McKinley back in international fold six years after losing sight in one eye

Ian McKinley has been called up to the Italy squad
Ian McKinley has been called up to the Italy squad

Former Ireland and Leinster star Ian McKinley has been called up to Conor O'Shea's Italian squad for a forthcoming training camp ahead of their June Test series.

In 2011, McKinley tried to wrestle possession from an opponent during a training game. At the same time, and as he was falling to the ground, a team-mate came over the top and caught his eye with a trailing foot. McKinley hopped up and, believing he had been the victim of a deliberate boot to the head, sought retribution.

There was no pain but a doctor soon grabbed him and the urgency in his voice made McKinley take notice.

He would later be told that it looked like some loosely applied piece of cling-film was all that was stopping his eye from falling out of his head. An 8mm gash meant part of the eye had to be cleared out in an operation and a series of events that would eventually end his career was set in motion.

But he returned to action in 2014 wearing protected eye goggles with Serie C side Leonorso Udine before moving on to Viadana.

His performances in Italy caught the eye of Zebre and after a brief spell there, McKinley moved on to his current club Treviso and he has played for the Italians 24 times this campaign.

McKinley qualifies for Italy under the residency rule and was today named in O'Shea's 44-man squad ahead of Tests against Scotland, Fiji and Australia.

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