Rugby World Cup
Italy's young trio out to impress
September 4, 2011
Semenzato impressed during the 2011 Six Nations © Getty Images
Italy's young guns are out to make an impression at the forthcoming World Cup after storming onto the international scene in the past year.
Fabio Semenzato, Tommaso Benvenuti and Tommaso D'Apice are three of Italy's new faces determined to make their mark at Rugby World Cup 2011. At the start of the 2010-11 season not one of them was on national coach Nick Mallett's radar, but such were their performances throughout the year that he had no choice but to call all three up to the senior squad.
Scrum-half Semenzato has made the biggest impact. He was handed his debut during the 2011 Six Nations after his Treviso clubmate Edoardo Gori injured his ankle on the opening weekend. It was a baptism of fire for the 25-year-old, as England ran riot at Twickenham to record a 59-13 win. Nonetheless, Mallett was full of praise for the player nicknamed 'Mozzarella'. He was first choice in the No.9 shirt for the rest of the tournament and named man of the match in the 24-16 loss to Wales.
"It has gone pretty well so far," Semenzato said. "I joined the national team for the first time during the Six Nations and played a lot with Treviso in the Celtic League.
''Now I'm at the World Cup and I would never have believed that would have happened. The first match was pretty difficult. In fact, against England it was a massacre.
''I took a lot more confidence from the other games, both in attack and defence. It was close against Wales and then we beat France."
By the time Semenzato made his debut, wing Benvenuti was already well established in the Azzurri squad. He burst onto the scene in 2010 with several electrifying performances for Treviso in the Celtic League. He then earned his first cap for Italy against Argentina during the 2010 November internationals.
"It was great because it was a really important match in front of a full stadium and there was a lot of attention on it," Benvenuti said. "For now there has been a lot to do, especially for the players. We are all happy to be here and hope to show what we are capable of doing."
Of the three, D'Apice is the one who has made the most recent impact. He only won his first caps in the two warm-up matches against Japan and Scotland to earn his place in New Zealand. He knows how big a challenge he has just to earn a place in the match-day squad. Ahead of him are team vice-captain Leonardo Ghiraldini and 77-cap veteran Fabio Ongaro.
"It is going well," D'Apice said. "I won two caps before leaving so I have some experience of the national team. "Leonardo is a great player and has made lots of appearances, while Fabio has even more. I'm the junior player and I just have to train well and show that I deserve a place in the team."
© ESPN EMEA Ltd
"Wayne Barnes' decision to give Dylan Hartley his marching orders was brave but crucially it was the correct call." Graham Jenkins reports from the Premiership final
"We wanted to get the rugby spirit across to people, I firmly believe we have been in the thick of it." Tom Hamilton speaks to the ESPN crew on the final live broadcast
With the Lions' tour to Australia fast-approaching, ESPN's Austin Healey and Mark Durden-Smith sat down to share their memories of the 2001 trip Down Under
"The fans could not be happier with the opposition and it adds an exciting element to a game that is shaping up as a thriller." Ben Kay previews the Premiership final showdown