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Wednesday 7 December 2016

Italians reshuffle pack for crucial World Cup clash with Russia

Published 19/09/2011 | 16:36

ITALY will unveil a vastly-changed line-up when they take on Russia is Group C of the rugby World Cup tomorrow, with only three players retained from the 32-6 mauling at the hands of Australia.

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Captain Sergio Parisse, Andrea Masi and Tommaso Benvenuti have been retained by coach Nick Mallett, meaning there will be a number of new-look combinations throughout the team.

However, Benvenuti is adamant they will be ready to perform tomorrow.

"In the starting XV there are 12 new players but we have all been training together," he said on gazzetta.it.

"We will prove we are ready and repay the trust shown in us by Mallett."

Benvenuti will be partnered with Matteo Pratichetti in the middle of the park, and he is confident they will quickly strike up an understanding.

"We are flexible, we will adapt to the characteristics of the adversaries," he added.

Russia number eight Victor Gresev is eyeing the scalp of Italy, inspired by the birth of his newly-born daughter.

Gresev became a father on Saturday two days after Russia's debut in the tournament, a 13-6 defeat against the USA when he appeared as a replacement and did enough to earn a starting place against the Italians.

"We have not come here just to play," warned Gresev. "We have a great desire to overcome Italy, however difficult it might be.

"If we show our true level, we will be able to beat them.

"We don't need to adapt the way we play that much. We should simply avoid our own mistakes."

Gresev is adamant that the birth of his daughter will spur him on as Russia bid to pull off an upset.

"All my thoughts are with my family right now, but I wouldn't say that they distract me much from my performance at the World Cup.

"On the contrary, it gives me extra emotions. I should definitely double my efforts since I will play for my whole family and especially for its new member."

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