Gower plan paying off for Italy - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gower plan paying off for Italy

20/06/2009 10:55:40 PM Comments (0)

Italy coach Nick Mallett's long-term plans for five-eighth Craig Gower look like they will also reap short-term dividends with the former Australian league star impressing against the Wallabies.

Playing only his second Test for his adopted country, Gower turned in a solid performance despite Italy's 34-12 loss at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium.

After Italy's opening defeat by the Wallabies in Canberra, Mallett spoke of his plans to build the Azzurri's 2011 World Cup campaign around the former league international at No.10, despite him playing most of his club rugby in France at inside centre.

The 31-year-old former Penrith skipper, who switched codes in 2007, showed Mallett's faith was set to be rewarded with a promising display.

With his forwards improving their service after a dismal effort in Canberra, Gower showed some of the qualities that made him an NRL star.

His darting runs at the defensive line caused headaches for the Wallabies, and almost led to two Italian tries.

Just minutes into the game, Gower took on the line and was able to hold up a ball and then send a pin-point pass to winger Giulio Rubini, who made a break between the Wallabies centres before being mown down by the defence.

Later in the first half, Gower gave his side another tryscoring chance when he put inside centre Gonzalo Canale through a hole, which was also quickly shut down by the home side.

Despite his efforts, the Italians never managed to get across the tryline but Gower showed enough for Mallett to persevere with his plans.

Mallett described Gower's maiden tour with the Italians, who he qualifies for through his maternal grand-father Emilio, as a "hell of a performance".

"Italy's never had a player at No.10 who can create space for the backs," Mallett said after the game.

"We're getting to know Craig and how he plays and every backline player is going to get better because of playing outside him.

"What we need to do is make sure he gets really good service and quicker ball on the front foot.

"We're very happy with the way he has come on, on this tour.

"Not to speak a word of Italian and to manage to play two Test matches against one of the top three teams in the world is a hell of a performance."

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