IRELAND’S players know what they have to do against Italy at the World Cup on Sunday.
It isn’t complicated or innovative and can be |summed up in three words: |Stop Sergio Parisse.
Argentine-born Parisse is |one of world rugby’s premier No8s, strong in the lineout and competitive at the breakdown.
The Italy captain also possesses such a talent for punching his way across the gain line that it can look like there is a third centre wearing a blue shirt.
“If we can shut him down, we’ll go a long way to beating Italy,” Ireland backrow Denis Leamy said.
That’s exactly what Ireland need to do as the winner will go through to the quarter-finals.\[Tom Lovejoy\] The winner in Dunedin will go through to the quarter-finals, while the loser could be heading home at the earliest possible stage.
Italy’s scrum has long been their most potent weapon as the country tries to hoist itself up alongside the traditional powers in the game.
But there is much more to the 104kg Parisse than raw power and technique at the scrum. He scored the opening try in Italy’s 27-10 win over the United States yesterday, charging up the middle to go over untouched.
“He’s a quality player and he leads the team fantastically well,” Ireland flanker Shane Jennings said.
“He backs things up with his performances and has a massive influence, so it’s a test for us to try to nullify him.
“He’s got the skills. You see him out in the backs and he can get an offload out. They have a number of good players and if that pack gets on top, it gives him the space to play.”
Ireland’s back row will have to keep Parisse occupied to deny him the space and momentum he craves in the loose.
Ireland’s defence stood up well to deny Australia quick ball and beat the Wallabies 15-6 and more or the same could be required when Parisse comes marauding toward them.
“We always get dragged into a physical contest with them,” Leamy added. “You wake up the next morning knowing you’ve been in a test match