Azzurri expect tough Boks
Azzurri expect tough BoksSHARE
The Springboks will be formidable opponents, despite missing several key players through injury and having a number of rookies in the squad, Italy team manager Luigi Troiani said on Monday.
The countries meet in the first match of South Africa's international season in Durban on Saturday.
The clash is one of three the hosts will play in the coming three weeks, in a quadrangular series which also involves Scotland and Samoa.
The Azzurri held their first training session at George Campbell Technical School, North Beach, on Monday morning following their arrival in the coastal city on Sunday afternoon.
"We know the first game against the Springboks will be very tough," Troiani said.
"It will be difficult to beat them, but we'll try to play as we know and we'll see how it goes."
At the weekend, national coach Heyneke Meyer named nine uncapped players in a 34-man squad for the series.
Griquas' duo Lourens Adriaanse and Willie le Roux, Trevor Nyakane and Lappies Labuschagne of the Free State Cheetahs, and two members of last year's Junior World Championship-winning South African Under-20 squad, Jan Serfontein and Pieter-Steph du Toit, are the six new members in the squad.
Siya Kolisi, Arno Botha and Jano Vermaak have been part of a Springbok squad before without being capped.
Gio Aplon and JJ Engelbrecht, who played one Test each last season, were recalled following good performances this year.
Several frontline players were omitted due to form or injury. JP Pietersen, Jaco Taute, Frans Steyn, Johan Goosen, Duane Vermeulen, Pat Cilliers and Frans Malherbe are all currently sidelined.
Troiani felt the home side was still a formidable opponent.
"South Africa has a vast choice of players to choose from and we still expect them to be strong," he said.
"For us, if three or four players are injured, then it's a problem, but not for them, because their players are of high quality in all areas, I think the team we will face on Saturday will be a great team that will be up to the challenge irrespective of whether they have inexperienced players out there."
Meyer will name his match 22 on Wednesday. The Italians, who are still awaiting the arrival of some of their players, will announce their team on Thursday.