Six Championship and League One players have been named in Italy’s World Cup squad alongside some NRL stars.
The biggest name in the Leo Epifania’s Azzurri squad is Parramatta Eels forward Nathan Brown, who played Origin for New South Wales in 2020 but now returns to the Italy side that he represented in 2017.
Melbourne Storm halfback Cooper Johns is also included, alongside half a dozen UK-based players.
London Broncos duo Dean Parata and Ronny Palumbo are joined by Whitehaven’s Ryan King, Keighley Cougars’ Brendan Santi, Anton Iaria of Barrow Raiders, and Swinton Lions’ Richard Lepori.
Italy, who are in Group B alongside Australia, Fiji and Scotland, have qualified for the past two World Cups but are yet to make it beyond the group stage.
Italy squad: Giordano Arena (Catania Bulls), Daniel Atkinson (Sunshine Coast Falcons), Simone Boscolo (RC Salon XIII), Nathan Brown (Parramatta Eels), Jack Campagnolo (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Gieolo Celerino (Racing Saint Gaudens), Jack Colovatti (Parramatta Eels), Luke Hodge (Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles), Anton Iaria (Barrow Raiders), Cooper Johns (Melbourne Storm), Ryan King (Whitehaven), Richard Lepori (Swinton Lions), Jake Maizen (Sunshine Coast Falcons), Luca Moretti (Parramatta Eels), Ethan Natoli (Newtown Jets), Ippolito Occhialini (Lignano Sharks), Rinaldo Palumbo (London Broncos), Dean Parata (London Broncos), Kyle Pickering (Cronulla Sharks), Luke Polselli (Sunshine Coast Falcons), Alex Rojatto (Lignano Sharks), Brendan Santi (Keighley Cougars), Alec Susino (Penrith Panthers), Nicholas Tilburg (Wentworthville), Joseph Tramontana (Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles).