Former NRL star Gower gets Italy call up

Former Penrith star Craig Gower could be become the first ex-NRL player to become a dual code international with Italy.

Gover has been named in the 30-man Italian rugby union squad for next month’s tour to Australia and New Zealand.

If selected, he will be the first dual-code NRL star to play for a country other than Australia.

After being involved in a string of off-field controversies while playing in the NRL, the former Panthers captain joined French rugby club Bayonne in 2007 and has been in impressive form playing at inside-centre.

The former Australia and New South Wales half-back qualifies for Italy through his grandfather.

Italy coach Nick Mallett was initially concerned about selecting Gower after reading about his off-field track record.

However, Gower has made the squad as Italy look to end a winless run of nine matches.

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