Italy counts on Antipodeans to down NZ - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Italy counts on Antipodeans to down NZ

By Barnaby Chesterman 13/11/2009 01:59:37 PM Comments (0)

Italy will be looking to its Antipodean expats to help the country secure a first ever win against New Zealand when the two sides clash at the San Siro on Saturday.

South African coach Nick Mallett made only two changes from the team beaten 27-6 by the All Blacks in their last match in Christchurch in June with Carlo Antonio Del Fava replacing the injured Marco Bortolami at lock and Martin Castrogiovanni coming back in to the front row in place of Ignacio Rouyet.

But it is Italy's southern hemisphere brigade that will be looking to make the difference on Saturday in front of a crowd expected to top 80,000.

One of those is New Zealand-born winger Kaine Robertson, who admits he's been dreaming of scoring a try against the All Blacks.

"That's always the goal of any winger, it would be something special if that happened (against New Zealand) but I'd just take the victory," he said.

"It's always a special game playing against the country where you were brought up, there's going to be a lot of emotion at the start, especially in front of 80,000 supporters.

"Hopefully, 90 per cent of which will be Italians but once the whistle goes all that will be forgotten, (the emotion is) pretty much at the start rather than during the match."

There is always a risk and a worry that Italy could suffer a severe beating on Saturday despite New Zealand ringing the changes from their 19-12 win in Cardiff last Saturday, with only three players from the team that faced Wales being retained.

Italy's 21-point defeat in Christchurch was their best result against the All Blacks in 18 years and followed seven games in which they had conceded at least 50 points - and once 100.

But Robertson says the Italians have taken heart from their June matches, in which they also faced Australia twice, losing by similar margins.

"Down Under in June we thought we were going to come back with 200 points on us but we lost all three games by about 30 points," he said.

"We kind of gutsed it out and hopefully that will go forward into this game."

As well as Robertson, Italy have two Australians in their team who would like nothing more than to get one over their traditional rivals.

One of those is Luke McLean, who plays at full-back again as Craig Gower, a former Australian rugby league international, plays at halfback.

"Obviously to play against the All Blacks is a big honour," said McLean. "I remember when I first played against the All Blacks was at under-19s for Australia and everyone made a big deal of it because of the big rivalry.

"Obviously playing for another country you still have that desire to beat them because they are the best, although not officially now, but over the history of rugby they have been the best so it's the biggest challenge you can get.

"Obviously I take that challenge on and hopefully I can meet it when I run out. You've obviously got that desire to beat them and when I watch Australia in the Tri-Nations I always hope that we (Australia) get up but it hasn't happened too much recently so hopefully we (Italy) can do better than them (Australia)."

Team (15-1): Luke McLean, Kaine Robertson, Gonzalo Canale, Gonzalo Garcia, Mirco Bergamasco, Craig Gower, Tito Tebaldi, Sergio Parisse, Mauro Bergamasco, Alessandro Zanni, Quintin Geldenhuys, Carlo Antonio Del Fava, Martin Castrogiovanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Salvatore Perugini. Res: Fabio Ongaro, Ignacio Rouyet, Antonio Pavanello, Simone Favaro, Simon Piccone, Kristopher Burton, Alberto Sgarbi

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