Tedesco to line up for Italy against the Western Rams

AZZURI: The Italian rugby league side, pictured packing down a scrum against Tonga at the World Cup in England in 2013, takes on the Western Rams at Bathurst's Carrington Park on Saturday. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

AZZURI: The Italian rugby league side, pictured packing down a scrum against Tonga at the World Cup in England in 2013, takes on the Western Rams at Bathurst's Carrington Park on Saturday. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

THE Federation of Italian Rugby League Australia has named Tedesco to take on the Western Rams at Carrington Park on Saturday.

Just not the mercurial Wests Tigers and NSW Blues custodian, Tedesco.

The NRL star’s brother Mathew, who plays with Picton, will lead the Azzurri’s charge against the Rams on Saturday, with coach Leo Epifania forced to select a host of players outside of the Italian side’s regular rotation.

FIRLA has been forced to send third tier players, those who are regulars in Country Rugby League competitions and the Ron Massey Cup in Sydney, to the clash, with NRL players not eligible for the World Cup qualifiers and the Federation’s second tier players, those normally in the Queensland and NSW Cups in Sydney awaiting a plane to Serbia, which will depart Sunday morning as the Italians look to qualify for the 2017 World Cup.

Still, Epifania is confident his proud contingent will do more than just compete with Western Division on Saturday.

“There’s a lot of young guys in this side, guys that have had a taste of NYC or are on the cusp of it,” Epifania said.

"I think this type of fixture is a valuable experience for our side. We’ll be without a lot of regulars, but the guys we’ll have will be determined to put their hands up for selection (at the World Cup).

“If it was me out there, I’d be doing everything I can to make it competitive, at the very least. We don’t know a lot about Western Division, but I’m pretty confident the boys we send out will do more than make a game of it.

“We’re heading out there to win.”

At full strength, the Italians are far more lethal than just two Minichiellos.

Nathan Brown, Paul Vaughan, Daniel Alvaro, Aiden Guerra and Anthony Laffranchi, and if he’s not selected for Australia, James Tedesco, will ensure the Azzurri are listed with plenty of talent.

And while they’re not there on Saturday, Epifania remains determined to defeat Darren Jackson’s Rams.

“It’s about getting the international game out to areas that might not normally get to see this type of footy,” Epifania added.

“We’re expecting a competitive day.”

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