Conor O’Shea (coach) named his 31-man squad on Monday and said it was very tough finalising his squad and telling the players who missed out that they won’t be travelling to the Far East.
Apart from Parisse, Leonardo Ghiraldini (hooker), who was also selected despite suffering a serious knee injury in the Six Nations earlier this year, and Alessandro Zanni will form an experienced core in the squad – all three of them have played more than 100 Tests for the Azzurri.
Also included is Braam Steyn, who was a member of the Junior Springbok team that won the World Rugby U20 Championship in 2012.
Italy are in Pool B with the Springboks, All Blacks, Namibia and Canada and O’Shea said they will be aiming for a repeat of their 2016 upset victory over South Africa in Florence in order to qualify for the quarter-finals.
O’Shea said the Azzurri have shown a remarkable improvement since he took over three years ago and that they can go through to the playoffs if they perform at their best in Japan.
“Compared to when I started my journey here, we now definitely have a better team, with more internal competition and much improved performances,” he said.
“Recently, we have shown that we can play against the top teams when we play our best game. At the World Cup we absolutely must win against Namibia and Canada and then focus on the other two big challenges we have. I believe that against South Africa, with this team, we can create an opportunity on our day.”
The Italians beat Russia by 85-15 in a RWC warm-up game at San Benedetto del Tronto on Saturday.
Italy RWC squad:
Forwards – Simone Ferrari, Andrea Lovotti, Tiziano Pasquali, Nicola Quaglio, Marco Riccioni, Federico Zani, Luca Bigi, Oliviero Fabiani, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Dean Budd, Federico Ruzza, David Sisi, Alessandro Zanni, Maxime Mbanda, Sebastian Negri, Sergio Parisse (captain), Jake Polledri, Braam Steyn.
Backs – Callum Braley, Guglielmo Palazzani, Tito Tebaldi, Tommaso Allan, Carlo Canna,Tommaso Benvenuti, Michele Campagnaro, Luca Morisi, Mattia Bellini, Giulio Bisegni, Jayden Hayward, Matteo Minozzi, Edoardo Padovani.