Italy coach Jacques Brunel is under pressure going into Sunday’s Rugby World Cup clash against Ireland at the Olympic Stadium in London. The Italians must defeat the Shamrocks in order to qualify for the quarter-finals for the first time. The Irish are to date unbeaten after regulation wins against Canada and Romania so far.
Brunel is boosted by the return to fitness of skipper Sergio Parisse. The Azzurri coach says: ‘The return of Parisse is definitely important to us, he is the captain of this team and did everything possible to take to the field in this World Cup. Some informed choices were made in light of the fact that Sergio cannot play the full 80 minutes, so we opted for (Alessandro) Zanni and (Maruo) Bergamasco on the bench. Ireland is strong and organised and has a great kicking game. They are excellent in the contest on the high balls and are well-drilled in all areas of the game. For us it is important to keep possession as much as possible, in the last two games against the Irish we did not succeed and this has made a difference. We cannot afford to have two hundred tackles as in 2014 and in 2015. We have to get the ball if we want to impose something on the opponent. So far we have not had the opportunity and the ability to play the rugby that we know we can play but we are convinced that on Sunday we will have a chance to win.’