Brenden Santi from the Townsville Blackhawks. Photo: Alix Sweeney

Italy has claimed the 14th and final place in the Rugby League World Cup 2017 (RLWC2017) tournament draw, following their win in the Rugby League European Federation qualifier play-off this weekend.

The Italian Azzurri defeated the Russian Bears in Leigh (England) to qualify for their second concessive Rugby League World Cup – the sport’s pinnacle international event.
 
RLWC2017 CEO, Andrew Hill, said the confirmation of Italy as the final team completes what is an exciting RLWC2017 line-up.
 
“I would like to congratulate Italy on their qualification for next year’s Rugby League World Cup,” he said.
 
“The European play-off concludes what was a fantastic 18 months of qualifying matches and the number of teams who competed reflects the growth of the international game.
 
“The 2017 tournament will feature the greatest rugby league players from across the world all aiming to win what will be the most competitive World Cup ever.
 
“Fans are in for a real treat and should not delay in securing their tickets for this exciting international event.”
 
The RLWC2017 will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, with three pool games in Papua New Guinea, from October 27 until December 2, 2017.
 
The 14 competing nations are (alphabetical order): Australia, England, Fiji, France, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Scotland, Tonga, USA and Wales
 
As the play-off winners, Italy will take position “EQ3” in Pool D of the RLWC2017 draw and will play matches in Cairns, Townsville and Canberra.

The 22-man Azzurri squad for the recent European qualifiers featured a number of players who are currently attached to North Queensland-based teams including Joel Riethmuller, Kieran Quabba, Ryan Ghietti, Col Wilkie, Justin Castellaro and Brenden Santi. Central Queensland's Gavin Hiscox also featured in the Italy squad. 

Castellaro and Wilkie each scored twice after the halftime break to boost Italy's impressive score.

The team have been led by former Raiders’ great, Terry Campese – so should receive strong support during next year’s tournament.
 
Italy – RLWC2017 Pool D matches
v Ireland, Barlow Park on October 29, 2017
v USA, Townsville Stadium on November 5, 2017
v Fiji, Canberra Stadium on November 10, 2017

Fans will be able to watch the greatest rugby league players from across the world for as little as $10 kids/concessions, $20 adults and $45 for a family of four.

Tickets for all 28 games of the five week tournament are now on sale from RLWC2017.com.