Napolitano hails important date in Italy’s history

NRL superstar James Tedesco will don the Azzurri jersey again at the World Cup

Coach Carlo Napolitano hailed an important date in Italy‘s rugby league history as they downed Wales 32-16 in their World Cup debut.

Sydney Roosters centre Aiden Guerra scored two tries, and man of the match Josh Mantellato was impressive on the other wing, as the Italians won a second half arm wrestle before scoring three late tries to add gloss to the scoreline.

It follows last week’s 15-14 warm-up victory over England, which really put Napolitano’s team on the rugby league map.

He said: “It’s a culmination of where we’re going and where we’ve come from. I think playing the opening game of any competition, let alone the World Cup, it’s important to get off to a good start, especially after the journey we’ve been on in the past 20 years establishing Italy.

“It’s an important date in the history of rugby league in Italy. I’m proud of the boys.

“The whole point of the World Cup is to get the best players we can, and go as far as we can in the tournament, so we can increase knowledge. We’re in all the Italian publications, and with that, interest becomes participation, and when we get participation, we can grow.”

The game is divided in Italy, with a rival governing body also operating to grow rugby league in the country. Napolitano refused to be negative on that point, and said that it’s still rugby league, and that maybe one day they can work together, and have a look at the players coming through the domesetic system.

Italy now go on to face Scotland at Derwent Park, before taking on Tonga in their final group game.

Napolitano added: “We have got things we can improve, that we can work on throughout the week, and that’s what we’ll do.

“Let’s concentrate on Scotland now. We’ll look at them and see if we can get over them. You can’t get ahead of yourselves, we’ve just got to take one step at a time and that’s what we’ll do.”

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