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Star fullback's return headlines Italy World Cup squad

SQUAD ANNOUNCEMENT: Ange Capuozzo will travel to the World Cup in France after being selected in the Azzurri squad announced on Tuesday.

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Star fullback or wing Capuozzo had been out of action since hurting his shoulder during the Six Nations defeat to Ireland back in February, but scored two tries in Saturday’s 57-7 thrashing of Romania.

Capuozzo, who was born in France, has just 11 international caps but has made a serious impact as part of Kieran Crowley’s ambitious young team.

The 24-year-old announced himself to the rugby world with a double against Scotland on his Test debut in March last year.

And he was key to Italy ending their 36-match Six Nations losing streak in Cardiff against Wales a week later, setting up Edoardo Padovani for one of Italy’s greatest ever tries.

Toulouse’s Capuozzo also scored in last year’s thrilling 28-27 win over Australia, the first time Italy had ever beaten the Wallabies.

Also selected in the 33-man squad are the Garbisi brothers, Montpellier flyhalf Paolo and Treviso scrumhalf Alessandro, who played together for Italy for the first time in Saturday’s nine-try victory.

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Treviso winger Paolo Odogwu, who was part of England’s Six Nations squad in 2021 without winning a cap, is included after making his Test debut earlier this month.

Crowley has selected a squad with an average age of 26, of whom 24 players will be participating in their first World Cup.

New Zealander Crowley will quit the Italy job after the tournament in France, which runs from September 8 to October 28.

Few will give the Azzurri any chance of getting out of Pool A as they are with hosts France and three-time champions New Zealand as well as Namibia and Uruguay.

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Italy have one more warm-up match before the World Cup, against Japan on Saturday in Treviso.

Italy squad for the World Cup:

Forwards: Pietro Ceccarelli, Simone Ferrari, Danilo Fischetti, Ivan Nemer, Marco Riccioni, Federico Zani, Luca Bigi, Epalahame Faiva, Giacomo Nicotera, Niccolo Cannone, Dino Lamb, Federico Ruzza, David Sisi, Lorenzo Cannone, Toa Halafihi, Michele Lamaro (captain), Sebastian Negri, Giovanni Pettinelli, Manuel Zuliani

Backs: Alessandro Fusco, Alessandro Garbisi, Martin Page-Relo, Stephen Varney, Tommaso Allan, Giacomo Da Re, Paolo Garbisi, Juan Ignacio Brex, Luca Morisi, Pierre Bruno, Paolo Odogwu, Montanna Ioane, Ange Capuozzo, Lorenzo Pani.

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