South African second-rower Johannes Van Heerden and New Zealand-born five-eighth Michael Wiringi figure in Romania’s cosmopolitan 31-player Rugby World Cup squad announced on Wednesday by their Welsh coach Lynn Howells.
This pair are joined by two other naturalised Romanians, Georgian hooker Otar Turashvili and Tongan centre Paula Kinikilau.
“It’s the first time that naturalised players have been selected for the Romania squad at a World Cup,” a spokesperson for the Romanian rugby federation told AFP on Wednesday.
The list includes a trio of players from France’s Top 14 – Mihaita Lazar (Castres), Horatiu Pungea and Valentin Ursache (Oyonnax).
These three will face the country where they play their club rugby as Romania are in Group D alongside France, Ireland, Canada and Italy.
“I hope that this World Cup will go down in the history of Romanian rugby by winning two matches,” said prop Lazar.
Lazar made his World Cup debut in 2011 when Romania, held 10-10 by English club side Yorkshire Carnegie in a World Cup warm-up this month, failed to win any of their four first-round games.
Romania will play another warm-up on September 5 in Bucharest against Tonga.
Romania World Cup squad:
Forwards (17): Paulica Ion (Perpignan), Mihaita Lazar (Castres), Andrei Ursache (Carcassonne), Alexandru Tarus (Timisoara Saracens), Horatiu Pungea (Oyonnax), Andrei Radoi (Timisoara Saracens), Otar Turashvili (Colomiers), Eugen Capatana (Timisoara Saracens), Valentin Popirlan (Timisoara Saracens), Johannes Van Heerden (Baia Mare), Marius Antonescu (Tarbes), Valentin Ursache (Oyonnax), Mihai Macovei (Colomiers), Viorel Lucaci (Steaua Bucharest), Stelian Burcea (Timisoara Saracens), Ovidiu Tonita (Provence Rugby), Daniel Carpo (Timisoara Saracens)
Backs: (14): Florin Surugiu (CSM Bucharest), Valentin Calafeteanu (Timisoara Saracens), Tudorel Bratu (Dinamo Bucharest), Danut Dumbrava (Steaua Bucharest), Michael Wiringi (Baia Mare), Paula Kinikinilau (Timisoara Saracens), Florin Vlaicu (CSM Bucharest), Csaba Gal (Cluj), Adrian Apostol (Baia Mare), Ionut Botezatu (Baia Mare), Florin Ionita (Steaua Bucharest), Madalin Lemnaru (Timisoara Saracens), Catalin Fercu (Saracens), Sabin Stratila (Steaua Bucharest).