Italy is aware that its Rugby World Cup crossroads moment has arrived. The Azzurri have been beaten by France and then edged Canada in Pool C so far but a defeat to Ireland at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday will almost certainly eliminate them from this year’s tournament. The Italians have never reached the World Cup quarter-finals.
A defeat against the Irish will see Jacques Brunel’s boys playing Romania on October 11 in Exeter to secure the third place in the group and an automatic placeatn the World Cup Japan 2019. On Wednesdday Sergio Parisse trained separately as he aims to be ready to tackle the 6 Nations champions. The wait for Sunday’s game grows hour by hour and backline veteran Luke McLean says: ‘Ireland appears to be favoured and rightly so. They have already won ten points and showed a great game. We on the other hand struggled to express ourselves by our standards. But we must remind everyone that, in 2013, playing our best rugby, we managed to beat them. With this in mind that we are preparing for the match on Sunday. We believe we can repeat that performance and we are working to achieve that.’
McLean could win cap number 70 on Sunday against the Shamrocks. Meanwhile coaching staff member Diego Dominguez says: ‘We are happy to get back with Sergio, we know that he did everything possible to be there and in recent weeks we have missed him. Obviously, I hope, for him and for us, he can take the field Sunday.’