Ian McKinley misses out on Six Nations homecoming
Former Leinster fly-half Ian McKinley will not make his Six Nations debut against Ireland in Dublin this weekend after missing out on the Italian matchday squad.
Treviso teammate Tommaso Allan and Zebre fly-half Carlo Canna have both been preferred to the Dubliner who made his debut for the Italians last year after qualifying under the controversial residency rule.
McKinley was included in Italy's 31-man squad to face England last weekend but Italian coach Conor O'Shea opted for Allan and Canna in his matchday squad the 46-15 loss in Rome.
McKinley is seemingly the third-choice out-half in the Italian ranks but O'Shea insists that his selection is based on merit, and not for his miraculous journey from perforating his left eye in a club game with UCD in 2010 to international rugby in 2018.
"He was judged for selection on who is best for the job, not because Ian has a good story," O'Shea said at the launch of the Six Nations Championship.
"He is the best to play, but to think of where he has come from is amazing."
— Italrugby (@Federugby) February 8, 2018
McKinley said that he was privileged to make his international debut against Fiji in November and that he now considers Italy his home after first moving to the Mediterranean based country in 2011, where he took up a coaching role with Italian third division side Leonorso.
"It’s an honour and privilege to be part of it," McKinley told RTE in November prior to his Test debut.
"It would mean everything. Italy has been there for me.
"It is my home now. I’m very much part of the furniture. They supported me during the goggle trial. They were one of the first nations to sign up for the trial.
"Zebre gave me my first chance at playing back in professional rugby in the Pro12. Treviso have stuck with me when maybe other teams wouldn’t have. I owe an awful lot to Italy."