Rugby League - England to face Italy in warm-up

England will play a first-ever match against Italy to finalise their preparations for the World Cup.

PA Sport
Rugby League - England to face Italy in warm-up

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Steve McNamara's England side will face Italy in Salford in October

The game with the Azzuri, who were the last to qualify for the 14-team tournament, will be held at the Salford City Stadium on Saturday, October 19.

The two teams will be in action a week later in a double-header on the opening day of the World Cup at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, on Saturday, October 26, with England playing favourites Australia and Italy meeting joint hosts Wales.

Italy can be expected to provide a useful hit-out for Steve McNamara's men, who will be coming off the back of a high-altitude training camp in South Africa.

The Azzuri, coached by former Salford forward Carlo Napolitano, will be captained by Sydney Roosters' former Australian Test full-back Anthony Minichiello and are expected to include Canberra stand-off Terry Campese and former London Broncos captain Craig Gower.

"Italy will be pretty strong if they get all the players over the line they've targeted and that's what we want," McNamara said.

"We wanted a tough test and it's also our responsibility to help spread our game. It's trying to grow in Italy and we're happy to do our bit to help."

McNamara added: "It will allow us to put the finishing touches to our extensive preparations for the World Cup.

"We will go into the match on the back of an intensive warm-weather training camp in South Africa and the run-out will be just what many of the players need.

"It's important that we hit the ground running come the World Cup and this game gives us the best chance to do just that."

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