Italians Confident Ahead Of France Clash

Italy coach Jacques Brunel says his charges are ready for its opening Rugby World Cup fixture against France at Twickenham on Saturday.  Brunel’s boys have traditionally struggled against the French but Brunel is upbeat.  The Azzurri coach says:  ‘As always, we put on the field what we think is the best team to function against the opponent and make sure that our players will perform to their full potential.  To win games you have to impose something on your opponent and have a solid defence.  The defensive aspect is important, but we will also be able to embarrass France with the ball in hand.’

The Italians will be without influential captain Sergio Parisse, who is out with a left calf injury.  Brunel acknowledges the blow, but says:  ‘We need to respond as a team to his absence.  Not only experienced players, but the whole group.  We have a line of youngsters, that have a great opportunity to show off and display their quality.  (Samuela) Vunisa replaces Parisse and he has already played this role (eighthman) and will have a great responsibility to manage the pack against one of the strongest scrums around.  Against Wales, the last match of preparation for the World Cup – we did the simple things well and we scored two tries, but we were lacking in terms of discipline and that cost us the game.  It’s a weakness that we have to improve. ‘

Meanwhile, centre Andrea Masi says:  ‘It ‘s important to be prepared to face France physically and stay in touch with the score going into the last quarter of the match.  It will be crucial.  If we are close at that point we instill uncertainty in the French, and we will do our best to achieve that.  We want to return from Twickenham on Saturday night with a win.’  On the matter of Parisse, Masi says:  ‘He is an exceptional player, who brings energy and leadership in the group.  Without him, on Saturday, we all have to take responsibility on the field.’