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Emotional Italians find All Blacks cancellation hard to swallow

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Remarkably, the 34-year-old recovered to be named in the squad but has not played a minute in Japan, saved for the final match by head coach Conor O’Shea, who planned to give him 20 minutes and the chance to say goodbye in what would have been his 105th Test.

“You are very emotional, especially for Leonardo Ghiraldini, who missed his last chance to play in an Italy jersey,” said O’Shea.

“To hear that your international career is finished after training is tough to take.

“I’m finding it really difficult. I saw the players’ reaction after training and it was horrible because these guys have given their lives to Italian rugby and their World Cup has ended on the training pitch, when it should be on the playing field.”

Parisse’s retirement from Test rugby is yet to be confirmed but it is expected.

He has hinted as much this year and Italy’s back row has appeared stronger without him. This is far from a fitting farewell for the 36-year-old No. 8 playing in his fifth World Cup, just the third player to reach that milestone.

Italy could have reached the last eight with an improbable bonus-point win, but this has been another disappointing campaign, with speculation that O’Shea could be replaced.

“Clearly, everyone is down because we wanted to have the chance to play against New Zealand. I’m disappointed for the players, the staff and the fans,” O’Shea said.

“I’m sure it was a hard decision for World Rugby. All the other teams whose matches have been cancelled are already through and we were the only ones who had a chance to qualify.

“We wanted to show our best against New Zealand.

”There are things on the field and off it for the coaching team and federation to decide the direction they take.”

The Telegraph, London

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