Italians plotting to upset Wallabies - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Italians plotting to upset Wallabies

By Darren Walton 12/06/2009 05:25:24 PM Comments (0)

Armed with two key Australian attacking weapons, Italy are quietly confident of pulling off a rugby miracle against the Wallabies in Saturday night's Test at Canberra Stadium.

Italy's South African coach Nick Mallett, usually one to downplay his unfancied side's chances, says a monumental upset is not out of the question.

Mallett's optimism stems from Italy's narrow 30-20 loss to the Wallabies in Padova last November and his belief that the Azzurri will be energised by the inclusion of former rugby league international Craig Gower at five-eighth and Townsville-born Luke McLean at fullback.

"I can't imagine any sportsmen who, when he plays against the country that he grew up in, wouldn't want to prove to that country that he has got really good talent and would like to show them what they're missing," Mallett said.

"Both Craig and Luke will both want to do the best they possibly can for this Italian group who have given them this opportunity to play at this level."

Italy are without a win in eight Tests in 2009, but Mallett has assembled "as strong a side as we can bring out" to Australia and his hoping his team can repeat the heroics of Padova, where the Azzurri led into the second half.

It was, according to Mallett, the best Italy have played during his 16-Test coaching reign.

"If you were an objective observer, you would probably say Italy didn't deserve to win it because of the opportunities Australia created, especially in the first 20 minutes," he said.

"But, be that as it may, going into the last 10 minutes we were in the game and that's what we are trying to do every single time we play.

"We'd like to be in the game in the last 20 minutes and in the last 10 minutes and then you never know how the ball's going to bounce. You might get lucky some day."

Although readily admitting the Azzurri will test out the Wallabies' debutant fullback James O'Connor with some high balls, Mallett says there's no point Italy thinking the Wallabies are vulnerable individually.

"We in Italy remain very humble and we realise we're not here to say there's a weakness here or a weakness there in the Australian team," he said.

"What we'd like to do is make sure that we can match up as best as we possibly can in as many areas as we can on Saturday.

"We'll take it little bit by bit. We'd like to make sure our scrum is competitive, that we win our ball in the lineouts and, from there, try and put them under pressure by various means.

"But there is no weaknesses in a team like the Australian side. You don't look around that side and say 'right, there's a player who doesn't tackle'.

"It just doesn't happen."

O'Connor, though, can expect a difficult night.

"He has played Super 14 rugby at inside centre, outside centre, he's played at fullback, I think, and on the wings, so he's a guy who, from a confidence point of view, is easily able to handle anything that we throw at him," Mallet said.

"But it would be silly for him to think he will go through the game without having to take a few high balls."

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