Martin Castrogiovanni (Gallo Images)
London - Italy prop Martin Castrogiovanni dropped out of his last World Cup after doctors discovered a tumour in his back, the Italian team manager revealed Monday.
The 33-year-old Argentina-born star -- fondly known as 'Castro' -- will see a specialist about whether he requires surgery.
"Martin has pain on a sciatic nerve and after a check doctors found a tumour pressing on his fifth vertebra that is causing inflammation and pain," team manager Luigi Troiani said.
"We are sure it is benign and tomorrow he will fly to Milan to see a specialist. The likelihood is he will require surgery."
Castrogiovanni has been one of the leading props in the world over the past decade playing for Toulon in France and Leicester in England.
His departure will not be the only one prior to the Italians final Pool D match, against Romania on Sunday. The Italians must win to assure themselves of third spot and avoid having to qualify for the 2019 World Cup.
Fellow prop Michele Rizzo and another of the plethora of their Argentina-born players centre Gonzalo Garcia have also been ruled out.
Rizzo and Garcia -- who scored the winning try in the 23-18 win over Canada before exiting early on in Sunday's loss to Ireland -- have knee injuries.
The trio join a long list of injury woes for the Italians, who have failed again to reach the quarter-finals. Influential centre Andrea Masi left after the opening defeat due to a torn Achilles tendon.
Both centre Enrico Morisi and wing Angelo Esposito never even made it to England as injuries intruded to ruin their hopes.
Captain Sergio Parisse -- another of the Argentina cabal -- only returned to action against Ireland as he recovered from an operation to drain a haematoma on a left calf muscle.
The only glint of light for the Italian squad is that hooker and vice-captain Leonardo Ghiraldini is recovering from a thigh injury that forced him to sit out the Ireland game.
"Leo is better and confident he can play on Sunday," Troiani said.
"He will have some checks over the next couple of days to make sure."