An international festival of rugby league will take place in Saluzzo on Saturday as Italy meet Spain.
The respective senior and U21 national sides will play in the Piedmontese town and there will also be a local women’s match to complete the day.
“It will be great to promote rugby league in this part of Italy,” said their men’s head coach Kelly Rolleston.
“It’s fitting that the match is being played in Saluzzo after the massive effort they have made this year playing a side in the French Championship.
“We will be looking to improve on our performance last week against Lebanon in Beirut and have made several changes to the team that narrowly lost 6-4 in a bid to give more of our domestic players international experience.”
Lorenzo Luccardi and Davide Spinnato, both capped, have been added to the squad, with Michele Marao, Lucas Bruzzone, Carlo De Carli, Paolo Rodasta and Cristian Mairone all making their debuts.
Spain men’s head coach Darren Fisher added: “It’s our first game of the year and an historic moment for us, having the seniors and U21s both playing in matches in Italy together with the women.
“It’s also a great opportunity for me to reward the standout domestic players with debuts. We will be hoping to assist Italy in their preparations for the World Cup in October, as they did for us as we entered the Euro C matches in 2015.”
Andrew Pilkington, Spain U21 coach, said: “I’m excited to see just how far we have come and identify what we need to work on in the future.”
Spain played two such fixtures in 2015 against a BARLA Emerging Lions side. Pilkington is keen to get the team more games to satisfy their enthusiasm, with some players driving six hours from Andalucía to meet the bus for the 14-hour journey to Italy.
“Having our first match away from home is yet another experience for a young group who can grow together,” he added.
“On a domestic level, Italy is somewhat of a model for us as we look to follow in their footsteps in terms of development.”
Italy 18-man squad
Edoardo Pezzano (Spartans Catania), Carlo De Carli, Giuseppe Pagani, Ismail Byaoui (Lions Brescia), Lorenzo Luccardi (XIII del Ducato), Francesco Di Trapani, Davide Spinnato (XIII Palermo Lovers), Jaume Giorgis, Lucas Bruzzone, Gioele Celerino, Mirco Bergamasco, Cristian Mairone, Paolo Radosta (North West Roosters), Alvise Rigo, Tommaso Nicoli, Fabrizio Ciaurro, Matthew Sands (North East Committee), Michele Marao.
Spain 17-man squad
Iván Ordaz (Irreductibles), Salvador Fajardo, Miguel Olivares, Sergio Perez (Olimpic Alaquas), Samuel Baeza, Jonathan Infante (RC Ontinyent), Vicente Cubes, Aitor Davila, Carlos Jane, Dani Morales, Aitor Romero, Raul Simo (Tigres Torrent), Remy Bueno (US Plaisance XIII), Andrew Pilkington, Antoni Tolmos (Valencian Warriors) – (Two to be added).
Italy U21 20-man squad
Luis Iollo, Giannantonio Visentin, Filippo Papamarenghi, Gabriele Radosta, Brad Calcagno, Alberto Mariani, Gabriele Pataro, Gianluca Azzali, Leonardo Grasso, Yacouba Compaore, Alessandro Viani, Francesco Viani, Alberto Berganton, Giordano Arena, Massimiliano Giannino, Luca Bondioli, Lorenzo Leandro, Fausto Perissinotto, Giorgio Draghi, Sebastiano Sapia.
Spain U21 17-man squad
Adrián Franco (Boquerones Málaga), Ismael Ferrer, Antonio Pozo, Álvaro Ruiz (Córdoba Fénix), Francisco Luis Perez (Mineros Peñarroya-Pueblonuevo), Juan Ignacio Álvarez, Daniel Marco (CR Muro), Jorge García (Olimpic Alaquas), Ángel Gonzálbez, Borja Ochoa (RC Ontinyent), Daniel Morales, José Manuel Santos, Enrique Toledo (Tigres Torrent), Julien Ferrere, Rubén Olivares (Valencian Warriors), Erick Infante, Manuel Merino (Vikings Albal).