Parisse wary of wounded Ireland

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 14:39
Large sergio parisse v wales 2017 800

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Italy captain Sergio Parisse has warned against "surprise plays" and Ireland's intention to "do damage" when they clash in a potential Six Nations bruiser in Rome on Saturday.

A week after succumbing 7-33 to Wales, Italy host Joe Schmidt's men hoping a more disciplined performance at the Stadio Olimpico keeps them in contention throughout the second half.

But facing the 2015 champions less a week after a 22-27 upset to Scotland dented Ireland's victory plans for the tournament, says Parisse, is not ideal.

"They're coming off a defeat they probably haven't digested yet," Parisse told media as he ran the rule over Saturday's opponents on Friday.

Parisse also believes Ireland have the game skills to adapt to Italy's traditionally defensive game.

"Compared to the other teams in the Six Nations, Ireland are able to adapt their game depending on which team they are playing. They're also adept at scoring tries off the scrum and the line-out," he added.

"We have to be wary of surprises because Ireland will have studied and prepared well. Their coach is astute, they have very strong players, and they'll want to go out and do some damage." 

Despite an historic 20-18 victory over South Africa last November, Italy's hopes of following suit last week were undone by a disastrous second half.

Having led 7-3 at half-time, the hosts gifted a rash of penalties to Wales who, after prop Andrea Lovotti was sent to the sin-bin on the hour, then ran in three late tries to seal the win.

O'Shea made 35 appearances as a fullback for Ireland but as he prepares to face his country for the first time as an opponent, the former Harlequins handler has left no stone unturned.

"After last week's disappointment, the coach reiterated to us this morning, in no uncertain terms, how important this game is," added Parisse.

"It's a crucial game for us but it's going to be more complicated than last week, because we can't make errors like we did, especially in the second half."

It will be Parisse's 123rd Italy appearance and his 75th as captain, but - despite a liking for ageing rockers the Rolling Stones - it doesn't mean he's any closer to retiring from the international game.

Parisse was rumoured to be set to quit international rugby following Jacques Brunel's spell in charge, before O'Shea's arrival at the helm.

"I'm a little old but until my body tells me otherwise, I will be available for this squad," added Parisse, who admitted the music blasting from his earphones pitchside was "the Rolling Stones".

"One year, two, I can't say when my body will tell me it's time to stop. Obviously, it's a pleasure playing for Italy under O'Shea.

"We talk a lot about what needs to be done for Italy and Italian rugby."

Agence France-Presse

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Team P W D L Pts
Ireland 3 3 0 0 14
England 3 2 0 1 9
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Wales 3 1 0 2 6
France 3 1 0 2 6
Italy 3 0 0 3 0