The head coach is in communication with a handful of potential players

Kieran Crowley: I’ve spoken to Alex Lozowski and Louis Lynagh about Italian selection

Kieran Crowley says he has spoken to Alex Lozowski and Louis Lynagh about the possibility of them playing for Italy.

The new international eligibility rules mean Lozowski, who has previously played for England, can compete for Italy. Players can only switch international teams once and there must be a stand-down period of three years. The Saracens man is able to play for the country through an Italian grandparent.

Whereas talking to Lynagh about Italian selection is more straightforward. He is yet to be capped internationally and he faces a choice as he qualifies for England (through residency), Australia (through his father) and Italy (through his mother). Paolo Odogwu is another player who could potentially play for Italy in future.

“I have been in contact. I haven’t personally been in contact with Paolo but he has been contacted,” Crowley said at the Six Nations launch. “The other two [Lozowski and Lynagh] I have spoken to personally. They have made decisions at the moment that I respect. I support them. I’ll keep in contact with them. But certainly if they were available, we’d certainly be looking at them. They are all quality players.

“We will keep the lines of communication open. Not only with those three but there are a number of others as well.”

What did Crowley say about Six Nations relegation?

Crowley also said he would be open to relegation and promotion in the Six Nations. Italy have had 32 straight defeats in the tournament which has led to the discussion around whether other countries should have a chance to play in the event.

He added: “It would stop people talking about us getting relegated for a start. That’s a personal view. I may be way out of line with that but rugby is evolving. Will that add extra spice to the competition? Does it need extra spice?

“What would it do to Italian rugby? It might help it. You might start getting more wins. Suddenly you get more confidence and you’re promoted again. Then because you’ve had wins you know how to win.

“You can’t win if you don’t know how to. Italy has got the situation with results is that we don’t know how to win.”

In a recent podcast for The Times, Italy’s performance director Franco Smith also said: “There’s one thing in rugby: pride. And Italy is a very proud nation.

“We all know it’s a very sore thorn in our flesh and I can talk for everybody in Italy – and it includes coaches at the franchise level, the Top Ten level, the whole Federation – it’s really hard to get rid of this monkey on our back.”

He later added: “It’s not a new thing that we’re not winning. Sometimes that one win every four years just took the monkey temporarily from our back, but we want to be more consistent with our performance, we want to be competitive on the scoreboard week by week. Will Italy dominate the Six Nations? Probably not. But can we be a lot more competitive, win more games, and consistently every year be better in our product on the field and also in our mental approach? Definitely.

“There’s a huge amount of growth that’s going to happen. We would like to win two or three games. We would like to be the team that has to be beaten.”

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