Italy and Stade Francais back row talisman Sergio Parisse says his selection for the Barbarians squad which will face Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday 4th June, is ‘a great personal achievement and one of the highlights of his rugby career’.
Parisse, the current Italian captain who has 74 caps for his country and is still just 27 years of age, is set to line-up in an all-star back row alongside the 110-times capped Australian George Smith and 98-times capped Welshman Martyn Williams.
Wales announced their 26-man squad for the match yesterday and named Williams’ Blues colleague Sam Warburton as captain in a group which retains the likes of Shane Williams, Mike Phillips, Jonathan Davies, Stephen Jones and Ryan Jones and also sees the return of Toulon centre Gavin Henson and Dragons wing Aled Brew alongside five uncapped players.
Partnering Williams, who is still vying for a place in Wales coach Warren Gatland’s final Rugby World Cup Squad, to be announced in August, and Smith is particularly appealing for Parisse who regards his invitation to play for the Baa-Baas as a huge honour. “Barbarians rugby is one of the greatest traditions in the game and something that I grew up watching and which very much inspired me,” he said.
“It will be a great honour for me to make my Barbarians debut and take on Wales at the Millennium Stadium. I will regard it as a great personal achievement and one of the highlights of my career so far to be able to pull on the famous jersey which so many legends of the game have worn.
“I hold players like George Smith and Martyn Williams in high esteem and it will also be a great privilege for me to take the field alongside them against Wales.”
Parisse expects the clash to be a gruelling contest but is determined to get the most out of his Barbarians experience and that means finishing up on the winning side against Wales.
“I know Wales will be using this match to fine-tune their squad for the Rugby World Cup, but there will be players like Martyn in the Baa-Baas squad who will also be vying for their places,” added Parisse. “We will have a side full of quality players and we will all be intent on winning and doing justice to the great tradition of Barbarians rugby in the process.
“From those great matches in the 70’s which were played at the Cardiff Arms Park right through to recent matches like the victory over New Zealand at Twickenham, Baa-Baas games are always historic matches. “I’m very much looking forward to being a Barbarian and all the tradition and the history that goes with it, but it will be even better for me if I can finish the game as a winning Barbarian.”
Tickets are available now, from £30 for adults, £15 children and £100 for a family of four, for Wales’ exciting clash with the Baa Baas at the Millennium Stadium on 4th June (Kick-off 2.30pm), call: 08442 777 888 or order online at www.wru.co.uk