We're getting towards the more enigmatic end of the Euro teams now with Italy next up. They've had some serious NRL and SL talent over the years lending some starch to their World Cup campaigns but will 2021 see them struggle? Best 17: 1 Tedesco (Sydney) 2 Polselli (Mackay) 3 Rizzelli (St Helens) 4 Cerruto (Canterbury) 5 O'Toole (Wentworthville) 6 J Johns (South Sydney) 7 C Johns (Melbourne) 8 Alvaro (Parramatta) 9 Tramontana (Blacktown) 10 Vaughan (St George Illawarra) 11 Latu (Warrington) 12 Guerra (Newcastle) 13 Brown (Parramatta) 14 Clifford (North Queensland) 15 Santi (Newcastle Thunder) 16 Myles (Penrith) 17 Sciglitano (Blacktown) With less well known NRL and SL players available to them, this is a hard one to put together. The above listed includes professional players available for Italy who are currently playing at a senior professional level. The final Italian squad will include some of their local players, and likely some seasoned campaigners like Mantellato who currently plays for Wyong. Italy also have a strong heritage representation in the NSW Jersey Flegg U20s which by 2021 some will have come through to at least second grade. You can safely write off Tedesco and Vaughan as they will be in the Australian squad. Regarding their local players - It is difficult to find online details about the Italian season, if one exists. Last year there were talks of a national competition with 4 or 5 clubs participating, but I'm not sure what eventuated from that. I have heard that Saluzzo Roosters have gone back to playing Union due to lack of opportunity, and Lignano Sharks will not take part in the Balkan league this year. However, last year's WCQ squad included a number of players from Ambrosiana Tigers, Lignano Sharks, Milano Mustangs, Parma Cowboys, Saluzzo North West Roosters, Veneto Black Rabbits, and XIII del Ducato. There has also been talk of a Sicilian team called Spartans Catania but not sure how regularly they, or any of these other teams, play. In good news... Italy are hosting the European U20s championship this year which will be good for their development and might be the kick start they need to get a stable national comp going. How will they go? The good news is they have a strong base of players including professional footballers in both Australia and England, domestic Italian players, and a seemingly well planned and supported development pipeline which gets their players representing through multiple levels and age groups. The bad news is they have no real stars, with Nathan Brown probably their strongest player and relying on the Johns brothers to choose to play for them to get some talent in the halves. They are in the closest thing we have to a group of death, with WC Pool Opponents: Australia Fiji Scotland Their last meeting against Fiji was a good flogging in the 2017 WC, and they haven't played Scotland in recent times. In last year's Euros they handled Spain comfortable but were put away by Ireland 25-4. Crucial Game: Obviously Fiji, but I don't see how they win it if Fiji continue their current trajectory. Predicted Finish: Pool exit in 4th place I'm predicting a winless outing this time round for Italy unfortunately, but the building blocks might be slowly coming into place that make them a future contender. Italy v Scotland is shaping as a nice contest for neutral fans with both teams fairly evenly matched and probably trying to avoid the group 'spoon'. But hey, a lot can change in 18 months and Italy will be hoping some stars shine in their direction. Thoughts? Is anyone coming through the grades that can seriously up Italy's chances? Will Tedesco forsake the green and gold for underdog glory?