America's Cup: Luca Kirwan, son of All Blacks legend, named as cyclor on Luna Rossa challenge

Luna Rossa America's Cup team & Luca Kirwan rowing for NZ.
Luna Rossa America's Cup team & Luca Kirwan rowing for NZ. Photo credit: Getty Images/Photosport

Luca Kirwan - son of All Blacks legend Sir John Kirwan - will cross enemy lines to sail for Italy at the America's Cup in August-October.

Kirwan Jnr was born in New Zealand, but spent his childhood in Italy, where his dad coached the Italian national rugby team. Luca's mother - Lady Fiorella Kirwan - is Italian, brother Nico has played football for the All Whites and sister Francesca is a pro beach volleyball player.

He has represented his birth country in rowing, but has now been included in the Luna Rossa crew as a cyclor, when they challenge Team New Zealand for the 'Auld Mug' at Barcelona.

New America's Cup rules require all squad members to hold passports for the nation they represent - Kirwan qualifies through his mother.

The Italians have drawn heavily on rowing for their engine room, which also features Olympic medallists Romano Battisti and Bruno Rosetti, and world championship placegetters Emanuel Liuzzi, Nicholas Brezzi and Cesare Gabbia.

Professional cyclist Paolo Simion has contested three Giro d'Italia events, while Mattia Camboni is a former European boardsailing champion.

Most America's Cup challengers have followed the Kiwis in recruiting athletes from other sports. The current NZ squad includes former Olympic rowing champion and Commonwealth Games cycling medallist Hamish Bond, Coast to Coast multisport champion Dougal Allan and sprint cyclist Simon van Velthooven.