Aussie Burton dreaming of Azzuri World Cup berth

by Staff Writer

Australian-born Italy fly-half Kris Burton has set his sights on a place in the Azzurri World Cup squad in New Zealand after forcing his way back into first team reckoning.

With fellow Aussie Craig Gower on the treatment table, Burton earned a call-up to Italy's Six Nations squad for their first two games against Ireland on Saturday and England next week.

With just four caps for Italy since switching allegiance seven years ago, Burton is determined not to let his goal slip through his fingers this time, four years after seeing his hopes of representing the Azzurri in the 2007 World Cup in France dashed.

"It's important to me because it's my objective," he said about the World Cup.

"My primary objective is to play well for my club and only from there can you be selected for the national team.

"So for me after missing out on the 2007 World Cup from being in the 40-man squad and dropping out a few weeks before, I've always had in my mind that I'd do everything I could to get to this World Cup.

"At the end of the day I can only play as hard as I can, if I get selected, I get selected.

"It's not something I can say I'm going to be there because other players can play better than you, you can't control that.

"I can only control how I'm playing and hopefully I can be there."

Burton's route to being on the verge of making his Six Nations bow for Italy has been a peculiar one.

He started out playing Aussie Rules football in Brisbane from the age of four before taking up Rugby nine years later.

"I've been kicking a football since I was four but it's a bit different to Italy where they kick a soccer ball around," he said.

"I played Aussie Rules until I was 13 and actually played rugby union and AFL in the same year, one day training one and one day training the other.

"Then I chose to stay with union because I was at a private school so you had to pick one sport to play.

"At that time it was the first time I'd played rugby union and I thought I'd give it a go and from there I got better."

He qualified to play for Italy through his mother and decided to make the move back to her homeland when he failed to make the grade at the Queensland Reds.

"I was originally with the Queensland squad but didn't get selected for the Super 12s the following year," he said.

"So my mother said I have an Italian passport so I could go and play in Italy if I'd like to have another experience, playing a different type of Rugby, the European game, so we decided to come to Italy."

Now he is on the brink of making his Six Nations bow as Italy strive to improve on their previous showings.

They have finished last in eight out of 11 participations but are hopeful of improving this season.

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