Monday 23 October 2017

Italy bank on inside knowledge

Italy captain Sergio Parisse believes his side could have an advantage going into today's clash with France.

The Stade Francais No 8 is one of eight players in the Italian starting XV who play club rugby in France.

"They are a great team but those of us that play in France know their mentality and their way of playing, which could help us to anticipate their moves," Parisse said.

While admitting there is an extra edge for the French-based Italians, Parisse stressed: "It's not more important than any other match."

Italy are still without a win this year and they have never beaten France. They were only beaten 13-11 by Ireland in their opener, and were in with a shout against Wales before losing 24-16. Coach Nick Mallett feels his squad are better than their record indicates.


"Against Wales, the team played a lot, especially in the second half," said Mallett. "Before, we were unable to play that type of rugby, but it was an important indication that the team is growing."

Mallett has made seven changes to the team that lost to Wales, with Racing Metro star Andrea Masi replacing Luke McLean at full-back.

The Azzurri are also bolstered by the return of centre Gonzalo Garcia after a one-year absence through injury. Luciano Orquera replaces Kris Burton at out-half, while Racing pair Andrea lo Cicero and Carlo Festuccia will play from the start.

France travel to Rome needing a big win to keep alive their hopes of defending their Six Nations crown, having lost 17-9 at Twickenham.

They are third in the standings, level on points with second-placed Wales with Ireland in fourth. "It's frustrating to see the English heading towards a Grand Slam, but we have to look for an honourable finish," said France coach Marc Lievremont.

Verdict: France

Italy -- A Masi; T Benvenuti, G Canale, G Garcia, M Bergamasco; L Orquera, F Semenzato; A Lo Cicero, C Festuccia, M Castrogiovanni; S Dellape, C Del Fava; A Zanni, R Barbieri, S Parisse (capt). Reps: L Ghiraldini, S Perugini, Q Geldenhuys, P Derbyshire, P Canavosio, K Burton, L McLean.

France -- M Medard; Y Huget, A Rougerie, Y Jauzion, V Clerc; F Trinh-Duc, M Parra; S Marconnet, W Servat, N Mas; J Pierre, L Nallet; T Dusautoir (capt), J Bonnaire, S Chabal. Reps: G Guirado, L Ducalon, J Thion, I Harinordoquy, J Tomas, D Traille, C Poitrenaud.

Ref -- B Lawrence (New Zealand).

Italy v France,

Live, RTE 2/BBC 1, 2.30

Irish Independent

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