Gower keeps No.10 jersey for Italy - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gower keeps No.10 jersey for Italy

18/06/2009 06:25:37 PM Comments (0)

Craig Gower's hopes of showcasing his skills in international rugby and challenging the Wallabies have received a significant boost with a new Italian halves partner.

Gower will team with his roommate Tito Tebaldi in Saturday night's clash with Australia at Etihad Stadium after incumbent Pablo Canavosio was dumped after a disastrous display in Canberra.

The former Penrith and Kangaroos halfback was hamstrung in his Italian debut due to the woeful service of Canavosio with the halfback's passes going anywhere but at his chest.

Italy coach Nick Mallett expected Gower would better display his playmaking talents in the second Test with cleaner ball from Tebaldi, who impressed off the bench in the 31-8 Canberra loss, and his new-look pack.

In making a massive 10 changes to his starting team, Mallett highlighted the importance of the league convert to the Azzurri's future through to the 2011 World Cup by keeping him at five-eighth.

The former South African coach said Gower would also start at No.10 in the final Test of their trans-Tasman tour against New Zealand next week.

"I think a 10 is so dependent on the quality of ball he receives," Mallett said on Thursday.

"I said to him before we came on the tour he would get three starts because there's no point taking a decision like picking Craig for Italy unless he can make a difference and I really think he will do.

"We need to provide better ball for him.

"I don't want to be too judgmental of Pablo, he's a good rugby player, but his service was poor and it's very difficult at No.10 when one ball is along the ground and the next one is above your head."

Despite setting up Italy's only try with a surprise blind-side dart and flick pass to winger Kaine Robertson, Gower admitted he was "scratchy" in the loss but isn't pressuring himself to star.

"I didn't expect myself to set the world on fire," he said.

"I just wanted to improve on what I did in the last four games I'd played at flyhalf (for French club Bayonne) and hopefully now I can improve on the effort of last week.

"If I can do that I'm happy with that. I don't expect myself to come out and be a top flyhalf after four or five games.

"It's going to be a process, I don't know how long - I might not even get there.

"I want to continue (playing five-eighth) because I feel comfortable there but it's about improving."

Mallett also gave another Australian Luke McLean his tick of approval by keeping the Queensland-raised utility back, who is helping Gower learn the Italian language, at fullback.

Italy: Luke McLean, Giulio Rubini, Gonzalo Canale, Gonzalo Garcia, Alberto Sgarbi, Craig Gower, Tito Tebaldi, Sergio Parisse (capt), Simone Favaro, Jean Francois Montauriol, Marco Bortolami, Tommaso Reato, Fabio Staibano, Franco Sbaraglini, Matias Aguero. Res: Leonardo Ghiraldini, Salvatore Perugini, Quintin Geldenhuys, Alessandro Zanni, Giulio Toniolatti, Kris Burton, Roberto Quartaroli.

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