There were plenty of grumblings from fans and pundits alike over Eddie Jones’ player choices when he was in charge. So when Borthwick took over it was expected that there would be a huge overhaul, with slighted players being brought back into the squad. Well, that happened to some – but not all.
Former Wasps player Paolo Odogwu has been one of the stars who has seemingly missed his opportunity with England. Now 26, the talented Stade Français player has been selected for the Italian pre-World Cup training squad.
Speaking to the Daily Mail earlier this year Odogwu spoke then about the potential of joining the Azzurri:
“There’s so much grey area with England, new coaches, me playing in France, and I feel they’d rather take someone from the Premiership,
“If England didn’t want me then I might have the opportunity to play for Italy. There’s a lot to think about because once you’ve made the decision then that’s it. If I get the opportunity this year I would love to go. Maybe I’d have to think about dying the hair blue! We’ll see.
“I’d love to go to the World Cup. That would be cool. I’ll be 30 by the next World Cup and you never know what’s going to happen.”
In 2016, Odogwu signed his first professional contract with Sale Sharks. His early performances showcased his potential, and he quickly became a fan favourite. Odogwu’s ability to play in multiple positions, including wing and centre has added to his value as a player.
Following his move to Wasps, the 2020-2021 season proved to be a breakthrough year for Odogwu. He played a pivotal role in Wasps campaign, delivering standout performances and earning recognition as one of the league’s most exciting young talents. His blistering pace and evasive running style often left defenders trailing in his wake. He gained his first Player of the Match Award in a thrilling 44–52 victory away to Bath, a match he notably broke through a straight-on tackle from big hitter, Sam Underhill.
Odogwu was made redundant when Wasps entered administration before signing for the French side, Stade Français. Odogwu was still available for England selection when the RFU determined that players affected by Wasps and Worcester’s demise would be excused from England’s foreign selection policy.
Despite this, Odogwu has not seen his impressive performances rewarded by England. Odogwu will instead be joining an Italian side filled with immense young talent, potentially forming an incredible backline with the likes of Monty Ioane, Ange Capuozzo and Paolo Garbisi and many more.
Forwards: Filippo Alongi, Paolo Buonfiglio, Pietro Ceccarelli, Simone Ferrari, Danilo Fischetti, Ivan Nemer, Matteo Nocera, Marco Riccioni, Federico Zani, Luca Bigi, Epalahame Faiva, Gianmarco Lucchesi, Marco Mandredi, Giacomo Nicotera, Niccolò Cannone, Edoardo Iachizzi, Dino Lamb, Federico Ruzza, David Sisi, Andrea Zambonin, Lorenzo Cannone, Riccardo Favretto, Toa Halafihi, Michele Lamaro, Sebastian Negri, Giovanni Pettinelli, Manuel Zuliani
Backs: Alessandro Fusco, Alessandro Garbisi, Martin Page-Relo, Stephen Varney, Tommaso Allan, Giacomo Da Re, Paolo Garbisi, Juan Ignacio Brex, Enrico Lucchin, Leonardo Marin, Tommaso Menoncello, Luca Morisi, Pierre Bruno, Ange Capuozzo, Simone Gesi, Monty Ioane, Federico Mori, Paolo Odogwu, Edoardo Padovani.