FIRL Press Release – NRL Players Commit to Represent Italy in WCQ

Media contacts: Capo Ufficio Stampa Italia: Davide Bolzoni

The FIRL have announced the „Big Five‟ NRL players that have been selected to represent Italy in the 2011 Rugby League World Cup European Zone Qualifiers to take place in Europe during October 2011.

At yesterdays major announcement which took place in Sydney at the famous Italian – Club Marconi in front of a well attended audience, Italy‟s head coach Carlo Napolitano and FIRL Italian based President Tiziano Franchini announced the FIRL quests for World Cup inclusion and presented the NRL stars to the press and audience.

Anthony Minichiello, Vic Mauro, Cameron Ciraldo and Aiden Guerra (Joel Romelo not present) were individually announced to the audience and answered questions from media networks about the opportunity that they have been given in representing Italy and assisting this developing nation in reaching the Rugby Legaue World Cup to be staged in Europe in 2013.

Rooster‟s legend Anthony Minichiello was also announced as Italy‟s Captain and Knights back rower Cameron Ciraldo as Vice Captain for the up-coming tournament.

Anthony Minichiello first represented Italy in Rugby League as a 19 year old in 1999 when he played three International matches (in France) against Lebanon, Morocco and France, before making his 1st grade debut the following year for the Roosters in 2000. He has reached the hights of Rugby League at both NRL and International level, winning premierships for the Roosters, representing NSW in state of origin and claiming a rugby league player ultimate prize as the International Golden Boots winner (best player in the world).

Minichiello stated during the press conference, “that he was very proud to represent Italy once again and is looking forward to assisting the team in securing one of the two remaining spots left in the 2013 World Cup Draw”. He further added, “that he will put all his rugby league experience towards the FIRL National Squad and the development of the rugby league code in Italy”.

Cameron Ciraldo first represented Italy in 2009 when he captained the team in the „Mediterranean Four Nations‟ tournament. This tournament was Ciraldo‟s come-back after suffering a serious ankle injury in early 2009 playing for the Newcastle Knights.

Guerra ,Mauro and Romelo are making the most of their opportunities in the NRL and are destined for big futures on their current form.

Italy commence thier World Cup European Zone Qualifiers campaign in taking on Russia on October 15 in Padova (Italy) and then are drawn to play Sebia on October 23 in Belgrade (Serbia) and finish off the tournament taking on Lebanon on Ocotober 29 in Belgrade (Serbia). The winner of this tournament will be included in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup.

FIRL President Tiziano Franchini who has flown in from Italy especially for this announcement was proud to have the NRL stars on board and acknowledged that the calibre of these players are not only important for the team chances in winning the European Zone Qualifiers but will showcase the great spectacle of the code of rugby league in Italy and Europe.

Franchini said, “I am very happy and proud to see that these players have expressed their desire to represent the country of their family‟s origin, that it is exactly the same feeling that I recognize when Italian players wear the Azzurri shirt”.

Head Coach Carlo Napolitano announced that , “There are a number of players that are eligible to represent Italy, not only in Australia, but also in France and England. Italian based players from the domestic competition will play a trial with italo-french and italo-english to gain their place in to the national squad. It is all about having a fair and equitable selection process in place and balancing the need for the Squad”.

FIRL are now searching for Corporate Sponsors that are willing to be get involved in the FIRL‟s quest to reach the World Cup. President Franchini stated, “this is, also, a great opportunity for companies that want to seek international exposure and want to showcase their company name or product on the world stage which will be displayed on the Italian playing jumper, gear apparell and the FIRL website”.

Players present:

Anthony Minichiello (Sydney Roosters, NRL) Vic Mauro (Manly Sea Eagles-Warringah, NRL)

Aiden Guerra (Sydney Roosters, NRL) Cameron Ciraldo (Newcastle Knights, NRL)

President: Tiziano Franchini Head Coach: Carlo Napolitano

Unable to attend due to Club commitments: Joel Romelo (Bulldogs Cantubury, NRL), Rocky Trimarchi (Western Suburbs, NSWRL)

We wish to thank FOX SPORTS News for their attendance and media coverage of the FIRL press conference.


Daniel Andruczyk’s email:


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15 Responses to “FIRL Press Release – NRL Players Commit to Represent Italy in WCQ”

  1. Peter T says:

    It would be even better if Mark Minichello joined his brother. They may never get another chance to pay together!

  2. Ashley says:

    Italy could well have quite a team for these qualifiers with not only potential to qualify but also to win world cup group games.

    I just hope the domestic Italian players who are basically the soul of the game get a fair go in this squad and aren’t ousted by someone just cause they have an Aussie accent.

  3. dragons4eva says:

    Good news for Italy. Great that they’re getting NRL experience. Hopefully Mini and these other players stay with Italy until after the World Cup.

  4. Cheyne Maher says:

    All good news!! A guarantee of domestic players, with the opportunity to play with the likes of former Golden Boot Winners, incentive all round for curious Italians to convert to the code. Great stuff!!!

  5. Kingsland7 says:

    All very good news!

    It will be a shame however if Lebanon are knocked out, given that the Lebanese domestic league was created with the vision of future world cups in mind.

    • druzik says:

      I think all the teams have the WC in mind…. I don’t think any one team should get a straight ride (yes that includes the 12 that already got in there).

      If lebanon make it great, if not and someone else does, then that is also great.

  6. Cheyne Maher says:

    I agree Kingsland7, although they should still send in a pretty competitive squad themselves. I think Lebanon in the World Cup would be massive for RL and for the Middle East region itself.

    Is it absolutely too late to expand the WC to 16 teams. All it would require is expanding group c and group d to four teams each. The three cross over games between group c and group d would be scrapped and replaced by an extra three games in each group, meaning the total number of matches played would only increase by three. Rather than approaching more tenders if that was a problem, simply play a couple of double headers to accomodate the three extra games in the tournament.

    The finals structure in my opinion would still remain the same with three teams each from the “seeded” groups progressing to the quarters along with one team each from the groups that include the qualifiers.

    I think both the Atlantic and European groups have enough strong contenders to ensure they could each provide two competitive WC teams each, especially as they would be placed in Group C and Group D and therefore avoid the likes of Australia, NZ, England, France etc.

    This might see USA and Jamaica along with say Italy and Lebanon all qualify.

    I understand the tournament has to make money and surely there is a business plan in place to give it the best chance of doing so, but with an extra three games, surely we could accomodate an extra two teams???

    • druzik says:

      With the qualifiers not having happened yet – there may be a window there to increase them… but it may be a budget issue there as well. If I remember correctly however, the English wanted a 16 team comp but the Aussies only a 12 team, so the 14 was a compromise.

  7. Cheyne Maher says:

    Ok that makes sense how they came up with quite a random number (RL does have its own wonderful way of doing things and it is often a “compromise” of something lol).

    Interesting you say the English wanted 16. I reckon this might be worth forwarding on, who do you reckon such an idea would be best sent to, i am keen to type up a proposal (although there is every chance it wont get the green light), i reckon it would be worth a shot. Surely both the RFL and NRL would be pleasantly surprised at the progress the likes of Jamaica and Italy have made to be giving the USA, Lebanon etc a run for their money and they could be quite competitive with Wales, Cook Is. etc

    Just dont know where the best place to send such an idea to, in order to give it the best chance of being considered??

    • druzik says:

      Neil Wood at the RFL would be the best person to start with, he is the one organising most of the world cup in the UK. He may have the best chance of getting something considered.

  8. Chris Sanders says:

    I can’t tell the difference between Neil or Nigel Wood Daniel?Are they twins??

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