New interim Federazione Italiana Rugby League President Daniele Veronese has called Italy’s presence in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup’s opening day double-header as a “historic moment for the sport in the country” after the schedule was announced on Thursday.
Italy, who have qualified for the finals for the first time, will play Wales on 26th October 2013 in the tournament’s opening match at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, with England against Australia set to follow.
“For Italy it will be a fantastic experience at the World Cup,” said Veronese. “It is an honour to open the tournament at such an iconic stadium against the co-hosts. We are all very proud of the results obtained so far but we are ready for the next global challenge because our primary goal is to use this magnificent international event to spread the sport within Italy.”
That task will fall principally to recently installed captain Anthony Minichiello and head coach Carlo Napolitano who plotted Italy’s 13-6 victory against Wales in 2010, arguably their best international result to date.
“I am extremely proud to be the head coach of this side,” said Napolitano. “The journey has been a long and winding one, even straying off the path a few times but with the ultimate goal to get Italy to the World Cup. If just taking part in it wasn’t great enough we now have the prestige of playing in the opening encounter against Wales. This is a fantastic opportunity to get Italian Rugby League on the map and also to develop it domestically in the country.”
“This is great honour and I am personally thankful to all the players who have pulled on the Azzurri shirt and all the management and coaching staff who have worked hard to get us here. I can guarantee that we are not in the competition to just make up the numbers; we are going in with the aim of winning every game that we play and we will put together a squad who are capable of doing that. I hope that all Italians in the area attend the games and give us that extra lift in each clash.”
Italy’s other fixtures in Group C are –