Mallett awaiting Gower debut - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mallett awaiting Gower debut

03/06/2009 10:10:23 AM Comments (0)

Italy coach Nick Mallett has hinted at a key playmaking role for newcomer Craig Gower on his team's three-Test rugby tour of Australia and New Zealand.

Mallett called up former Australian rugby league Test halfback Gower for the first time for matches against Australia on Saturday week in Canberra and June 20 in Melbourne, and New Zealand on June 27 at Christchurch.

"The choice of Craig Gower made a lot of sense," said Mallett on Tuesday a day before his team flew out for Australia.

"Craig is a very physical player, weighing 92 kilograms and is an excellent tackler.

"He loves to run the ball, attack the line and get the team playing. I've no doubt about the fact that with his playmaking he can get the backline moving."

Gower, 31, has been playing at five eighth for French club Bayonne.

Sydney-born Gower qualified for Italy through an Italian grandfather.

He left rugby league - after 14 Tests for Australia and more than 200 NRL games for Penrith, including the 2003 NRL title - in 2007 in hope of representing the Azzurri.

Gower is one of six new caps in the 30-man squad, captain by No.8 Sergio Parisse.

It has been a difficult year for Italy with another last-place finish in the Six Nations. It is has lost its last eight tests and nearly been 12 months since its last win, against Argentina in Cordoba.

Italy has never beaten Australia or New Zealand, though it gave Australia a major scare at Padova last November before losing 30-20.

"We've got a very difficult and interesting month in front of us," Mallett said.

"It is difficult because after a Six Nations to forget in terms of results, we are now going to challenge two of the best teams in the world.

"Against teams like the Wallabies and the All Blacks, it is no use hiding. Defending properly is fundamental as is how you look after the ball.

"We have recovered one of our important weapons, the rolling maul, which we weren't able to use in the Six Nations and this definitely represents a point in our favor."

Rugby experimented with rule changes that allowed defending teams to pull down the rolling maul last season, but has since abandoned the experiment.

Italy squad: Matias Aguero, Mauro Bergamasco, Mirco Bergamasco, Marco Bortolami, Kristopher Burton, Gonzalo Canale, Pablo Canavasio, Carlo Antonio Del Fava, Paul Derbyshire, Simone Favaro, Gonzalo Garcia, Quintin Geldenhuys, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Craig Gower, Luke McLean, Jean-Francois Montauriol, Sergio Parisse (capt), Gilberto Pavan, Salvatore Perugini, Matteo Pratichetti, Roberto Quartaroli, Tommaso Reato, Kaine Robertson, Ignacio Rouyet, Giulio Rubini, Franco Sbaraglini, Fabio Staibano, Tito Tebaldi, Giulio Toniolatti, Alessandro Zanni.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2022 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news