Italy veteran announces retirement.
Italy prop Andrea Lo Cicero said the upcoming final Six Nations game against Ireland will be his last for the Azzurri.
Lo Cicero will pick up his 103rd cap, the most ever for Italy, when he starts against the Irish at Rome’s Olympic Stadium on Saturday.
“It’s been a very difficult decision for me to make, but I have made it at the right time,” the 37-year-old Lo Cicero told reporters in Rome on Friday.
“Italian rugby is going well and gives us hope for the future.
“That doesn’t mean I’m not a little scared about my future.
“But, as I’ve done throughout my career I will fight on and remain optimistic for my future.”
Lo Cicero was included in Italy’s squad for the 1999 World Cup but did not make his full debut until a year later against England, filling a role previously held by Massimo Cuttitta.
Lo Cicero will be given the honour of taking to the field on his own on Saturday ahead of his teammates, a gesture which is likely to spur on the Azzurri as they look to defy an Ireland side which is facing a potential first wooden spoon finish in the Six Nations tournament.
Ireland prop Ciaran Healy admitted: “It’s going to be a big one for him and his team because of that, when one of your guys is finishing up a good career you want to put a big dig at the end of it.”
But he said Ireland would put his decision to the back of their minds.
“We can’t take that into account as a team,” added Healy.
“We’re going out to win a game, to play hard. Respect is given and that will be paid but’re going out to win this game.”