Sunday 4 December 2016

Italy

Published 20/02/2011 | 05:00

From the near-thing against Ireland to the hammering in Twickenham -- where they let themselves down badly -- in the space of eight days, Nick Mallett looks like he's back where he started with this bunch. And the likelihood is that they will come looking for him ahead of the World Cup if they draw another blank in this campaign. Injuries are not an issue for him, and given his paltry playing resources neither is selection -- though he has brought in Carlo Festuccia for Fabio Ongaro and Lorenzo Citadini for Ignacio Fernandez Ruoyet.

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As it happens, Cittadini is from Treviso, by a distance the most successful element in the Italian game. Their win over Munster last Sunday will have deepened the bad feeling between Benetton and the Italian Federation, who feel the club planned their season without considering the needs of the national squad. They chose, for example, to leave scrumhalf Eduardo Gori largely idle even though Mallett needed him playing. And the club feel that they have the expertise to beat the Celts, not the FIR. Bit of a spat going on in Italian rugby. Hardly unique.

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