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Page last updated at 15:30 GMT, Monday, 18 May 2009 16:30 UK

Australian Gower lands Italy call

Craig Gower
Gower is currently playing in France

Former Australia rugby league star Craig Gower has been named in the Italy squad for their forthcoming tour of Australia and New Zealand.

Gower, who switched codes in 2007, is eligible to play for the Azzurri as he has an Italian grandfather.

The 31-year-old's first call-up will see him contest the fly-half position.

Italy face Australia in Canberra on 13 June and Melbourne on 20 June before playing New Zealand in Christchurch on 27 June.

Full-back Andrea Masi and hooker Carlo Festuccia asked to be left out of the squad for compassionate reasons following last month's earthquake in their home city of L'Aquila.

"I talked with both Andrea and Carlo, who would have been in the squad. Of course I understand their reasons, we will be able to count on them for the November Tests," said Italy coach Nick Mallett.

"I think the summer tour that awaits us is one of the most difficult Italy have ever faced.

"It will be an important opportunity for the group to grow, especially our younger players."

Italy are bidding to host the 2015 or 2019 World Cup.

Italy squad:

Backs: Mirco Bergamasco, Gonzalo Canale, Pablo Canavosio, Gonzalo Garcia, Craig Gower, Andrea Marcato, Luke McLean, Gilberto Pavan, Simon Picone, Matteo Pratichetti, Roberto Quartaroli, Kaine Robertson, Giulio Rubini, Giulio Toniolatti.

Forwards: Matias Aguero, Mauro Bergamasco, Marco Bortolami, Martin Castrogiovanni, Carlo Antonio Del Fava, Simone Favaro, Quintin Geldenhuys, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Jean-Francois Montauriol, Sergio Parisse (captain), Salvatore Perugini, Tommaso Reato, Franco Sbaraglini, Josh Sole, Fabio Staibano, Alessandro Zanni.

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see also
Aussie Gower set to switch codes
26 Jun 07 |  Rugby League
Gower demoted after drunken binge
04 Jan 06 |  International
Salford fail in bid to sign Gower
04 Mar 05 |  Salford

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