Terry Campese is set to be one of eight debutants in the Italian squad having played the last Super League season with Hull KR – although club colleague Josh Mantellato is out injured.
Campese missed the 2013 World Cup due to injury despite being selected in the Azzurri squad and is keen to make his mark before taking up a post as player/coach back in Canberra.
“I’m very happy being a part of the Italian national team, playing for World Cup qualification is a big personal challenge,” he said from the team’s base in Belgrade.
“I was curious to see what the environment and the team would be like and it’s a very professional group that has a lot of desire to win and improve.”
The surprise inclusion is three-quarter Mirco Bergamasco who played 89 times for Italy rugby union, scoring 256 points.
He made his debut, aged 18, as a replacement against France at the Stade de France on 2 February 2002 in the Six Nations Championship and his final appearance was in an autumn international against Australia in Firenze on 24 November 2012.
His father Arturo played four internationals for Italy and brother Mauro represented his country on 106 occasions.
Campese added: “Mirco is an athlete accustomed to play at the highest levels. Clearly the code change is never easy, but he’s been working hard with coach Cameron Ciraldo, the staff and the team and will add value.
“I’m sure the battle will be upfront, especially with the rain coming down in Belgrade, and we will have to be on top of our game to come away with the win we need to take to Monza against Wales.”