Azzurri want to kick on
Thu, 10 Jan 2013 13:22
We are looking more to impose our game on our opponents than simply oppose them
Italy coach Jacques Brunel called on the Azzurri to build on their promising November Test campaign as he named his 30-man squad for the Six Nations.
Italy kick off their campaign by hosting 2011 World Cup finalists France at the Olympic Stadium on February 3, and have two other home games, against Wales on February 23 and Ireland on March 16.
The Azzurri, who recently came close to securing an historic draw against Australia in the November Tests, also play Scotland and England away.
Brunel has already taken Italy into the top ten of the IRB rankings - a feat that former coach Nick Mallett did not achieve in his four-year tenure.
Now the Frenchman wants his side to achieve their full potential by starting to believe they can challenge the very best.
"One of the biggest challenges I have is convincing the players of their own ability and potential to challenge the best," Brunel commented.
"We still have a lot of things to improve. But a lot of it comes down to the ambition you have, the spirit you show and how you show it.
"We are looking more to impose our game on our opponents than simply oppose them. Even if you manage to oppose the rival team in determined fashion, at some point or another you start to suffer."
While keeping faith with the bulk of the squad which beat Tonga and showed glimpses of brilliance against both New Zealand and the Wallabies in November, Brunel has called up a number of emerging younger players.
Treviso winger Tommaso Iannone and teammate Francesco Minto, who is a loose forward, both return to the squad following promising performances in November.
Prop Alberto de Marchi has been handed the chance for only his fifth cap while Australian-born Narbonne lock Joshua Furno gets the chance for only his seventh.
Zebre flank Paolo Buso, who has only one cap so far, is also included.
Paul Derbyshire, meanwhile, has been called in from the international wilderness. The flank, who plays club rugby for Treviso, last played for Italy against Ireland in the 2011 World Cup.
Brunel added: "We've mainly kept faith with the November squad that showed a lot of promise and although we've brought in younger players with one eye on the future the only big changes are because of injuries."
With wing Mico Bergamasco out of the tournament due to a knee injury, Brunel said: "Derbyshire has international experience and is a player who interests us a lot.
"Paolo Buso is young, he a flexible player who's played at flyhalf but also at the back recently. We'll see what he can contribute to this team."
With France, beaten 8-7 by the All Blacks in the last World Cup final, up first Brunel knows it will be tough taking on "one of the best teams in the world" on their own terms.
He admits that discipline and belief will be key.
"It's always difficult to come up against one of the best teams in the world - finalists at the World Cup, and in the November Tests they played solidly and gained a lot of confidence," he said.
"They'll come here feeling confident so we're well aware of the challenge. But, Italy are on their own wave of confidence. We often give the French a problem, so we'll see."
Italy Squad: Tommaso Benvenuti, Tobias Botes, Kristopher Burton, Paolo Buso, Gonzalo Canale, Gonzalo Garcia, Edoardo Gori, Tommaso Iannone, Andrea Masi, Luke McLean, Luciano Orquera, Alberto Sgarbi, Giovanbattista Venditti, Roberto Barbieri, Martin Castrogiovanni, Lorenzo Cittadini, Alberto De Marchi, Paul Derbyshire, Simone Favaro, Joshua Furno, Quintin Geldenhuys, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Davide Giazzon, Andrea Lo Cicero, Francesco Minto, Sergio Parisse, Antonio Pavanello, Michele Rizzo, Ratu Manoa Vosawai, Alessandro Zanni.
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