Brunel targets Six Nations glory
November 3, 2011
Brunel speaks to the media at a press conference in Bologna © Getty Images
New Italy coach Jacques Brunel is determined to transform the Azzurri into Six Nations title contenders in the "next two to three years".
The 57-year-old Frenchman, who was officially unveiled by the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR) in Bologna on Thursday having put pen to paper on a four-year deal to replace former coach Nick Mallett, has set his sights on claiming the northern hemisphere crown with a place in the world's top six his ultimate goal.
Italy have propped up the Six Nations table on nine of the 12 occasions they have taken part in the Championship and have won just eight out of 60 matches but that has not prevented Brunel from setting some lofty goals for his new charges.
"The team has potential, they've been progressing for several years and I hope to develop this progress even more," the former Perpignan coach told reporters. "In the next two to three years we need to arrive in a position in which we are able to win the Six Nations and at the end of the four-year cycle to be in the first six in the world. That will require a lot of work, we have to keep our strengths and find a better balance with these strengths, but I believe strongly in this team."
Italy won two of their four games at the recent Rugby World Cup in New Zealand - against Russia and the United States - with defeat in their final pool clash against Ireland ending their hopes of making the knock out stages.
The team's next clash will be against World Cup finalists France in Paris on February 4 where Brunel will begin his preparations for the next tournament in England in 2015 and while he is keen to focus on youth development he is reluctant to make major changes to the current squad.
"The Six Nations is very important," said Brunel, who previously worked as an assistant to former France coach Bernard Laporte. "We have to be ready very quickly. So it will be necessary to rely on the majority of the players who were at the World Cup and then in June [tour to Argentina, Canada and the USA] explore the potential mainly in young players. So we'll continue now with the backbone of players from the World Cup and then, rest them and bring in the youngsters in June.
"We have to have confidence in players we have, as well as working with the clubs and young players for the future," he said. "So today we'll exploit the strengths we have, always staying with the mentality that we have to prepare for tomorrow.
"There has to be a collaboration between all the levels of Italian rugby to let us have results now and in the future. The attention the clubs give the young players now will be crucial for Italy in the future. We have to try to exploit to the max the potential of the players. I want players who are ambitious. We have to exploit the strengths we have and find a game that works best to our resources."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies