Former Hull KR and Widnes coach Tim Sheens has joined Italy’s backroom staff ahead of the World Cup this autumn.
The 71-year-old guided Australia to World Cup glory on English soil in 2013.
The addition of Sheens comes as a massive boost for the Azzurri. Sheens has been in charge of more than 750 first-grade games as a head coach.
Sheens will work alongside head coach Leo Epifania, who led Italy to World Cup qualification back in 2019.
Ex-Hull KR half-back Terry Campese will be Epifania’s assistant coach. Former Hull and Gateshead forward Tony Grimaldi will be Italy’s strength and conditioning coach.
Former France coach and rugby league international development officer Tas Baitieri is also on board for Italy as team manager.
Italy boss on World Cup coaching staff
Italia Rugby League president Orazio D’arro said: “The Italian board has finalised its coaching staff for the upcoming RLWC. The staff that have been selected have the core focus of the RLWC but also delivering a high standard of elite rugby league whilst still being passionate about representing Italy.
“This team will be faced with the challenge of facing the Kangaroos for the first time since 1968. This alone will be an opportunity for the federation to grow learn and leave its mark on rugby league.
“I thank Leo Epifania for the effort he has done to pull this coaching staff together.”
The Azzurri are in a group alongside World Cup holders Australia as well as Scotland and Fiji.
NRL players eligible for Italy
There are seven players in the NRL who qualify to play for Italy – James Tedesco (Roosters), Jordan Rapana (Raiders), Cooper Johns (Storm), Nathan Brown (Eels), Trent Loiero (Storm), Jack Johns (Knights) and Paul Vaughan (Bulldogs).
Tedesco and Vaughan have played in the last two World Cups for Italy, but the pair have since represented their country of birth Australia. Brown and Jack Johns represented their Italian heritage in the last World Cup in 2017.