Wallabies expect brutal Test with Italy - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Wallabies expect brutal Test with Italy

By Darren Walton 10/06/2009 02:13:46 PM Comments (0)

The Wallabies are bracing themselves for a torrid forward battle with the vaunted Italian pack in Saturday night's season-opening rugby Test in Canberra.

Despite losing all five Six Nations matches this year and having never beaten Australia in 10 previous Tests, the Italians - ranked 12th in the world - still boast one of the most feared packs in Europe.

Former NRL star Craig Gower, who is tipped to be named as Italy's five-eighth on Thursday for his international rugby debut, has captured most of the attention in the lead-up to the match.

But assistant coach Jim Williams and powerhouse hooker Stephen Moore have no doubts where Italy's greatest threats lay, having not forgotten how much grief the Azzurri forwards caused the Wallabies in the 30-20 escape in Padova last November.

"They gave us a fairly hard time last time through their set piece and really all over the park they showed how aggressive they were and how much they wanted to go into contact around the breakdown," Williams said on Wednesday.

"They really caught us there a little bit last time.

"In that respect, Gower will certainly be an important cog in their team with running the plays (off the back of the forward platform) and organising things and, as we know, he's got a kicking game.

"But the forwards are going to be the big concern for us."

Moore, Australia's undoubted forward leader after establishing himself last year as one of the premier hookers in world rugby, is relishing the chance for the Wallabies to gauge their forward progress against the rugged Italians.

"They take a lot of pride from their set piece," he said.

"They've got a passion for scrummaging and now that the new laws allowing mauling to come back in, I think you'll see them doing a lot of that as well.

"So it's going to be a big battle for us up front and we wouldn't want any less. We're really excited about that.

"We've got two Tests now against Italy - and then France as well will play a similar game - and there's no secrets as to what they'll bring there and we've prepared accordingly."

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