Former Ireland under-20 international Ian McKinley could finally receive his first senior cap this weekend, six years after he was forced into early retirement.
The out-half has been called up by Italy coach Conor O’Shea for this weekend’s test match against Fiji, taking his place among the replacements in the 23-man panel.
— Italrugby (@Federugby) November 9, 2017
The 27-year-old has been named in Italy squads, such as the 44-man group for the recent summer tests, and could now complete a remarkable career resurrection with an appearance for the Azzurri in Catania on Saturday.
A promising member of the Leinster squad at the end of the last decade, McKinley’s career appeared to be over after he lost the sight in his left eye in a freak training game incident in 2011.
He later returned the game in a playing capacity three years later, having initially embarked on a coaching career, in the lower Italian leagues using special protective goggles, and his performances with Leonorso and Viadana were suitably strong enough that top-level sides Zebre and Benetton took a chance on him – a punt that has evidently paid off for all parties concerned with qualification for Italy coming under the residency ruling.
Italy’s clash with Fiji is the first of a three-part test series, with much harder challenges against Argentina and South Africa to follow the two following Saturdays.