Azzurri aware of Wallabies 'disco' tricks
November 8, 2013
Sergio Parisse and Italy have already scalped France and Ireland this season © Getty Images
Italy coach Jaques Brunel has dismissed Wallabies complaints about refereeing treatment of their struggling scrum, saying the Azzurri will target the tourists' shaky set-piece in Turin.
Australia coach Ewen McKenzie has fired off a lengthy submission to the International Rugby Board as he believes his scrum was the unfair victim of history in the 20-13 loss to England, saying Irish referee George Clancy baffled him with a string of calls and inconsistencies in whistling seven scrum penalties to England and none to the Wallabies.
But Brunel felt the complaints, ahead of a crucial match for McKenzie, were par for the course, saying match officials only rarely get the complex set-piece correct. "No teams are happy with the way the scrum is refereed," the Frenchman said ahead of the Test at Stadio Olimpico in Turin.
Australia's pack has waned under the new soft-engagement scrum laws, and Italy are not making any secret of the fact they will "attack" the tourists' set piece. The Azzurri's strength lies in their scrum, and victory up front will put them well on track for their maiden Test win over Australia following 15 losses.
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"I hope so," Brunel said. "While definitely the Australian scrum isn't weak, maybe it's not their strongest [area]."
McKenzie has maintained faith in his front-row of James Slipper, Stephen Moore and Ben Alexander, and also stuck the second-row of Sitaleki Timani and James Horwill to keep size and weight in the scrum.
Italy scored Six Nations upsets over France and Ireland at home this year, and they have a feeling they may be facing Australia "at the right time", but the Wallabies may feel equally fortunate about the timing as Italy are sporting a new-look front-row. The Azzurri have stalwart hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini on the bench due to a shoulder injury, while inspirational prop Martin Castrogiovanni is battling a virus and veteran loos-ehead Andrea Lo Cicero has just retired.
But Lo Cicero's replacement, Michele Rizzo, said he had a real opportunity to hurt the Wallabies scrum and lay the platform for a special victory at Stadio Olympico.
"If there is one point where we can put pressure on Australia then it I'm sure it is up front," he said. "If you can dominate at the scrum, you can dominate, much better, the game. So it's very important for us to do very, very well in the scrum. We have to try and attack them with every scrum."
Rizzo said that Italy would not underestimate Australia's pack, but they were ready to stop the "disco" tourists from illegally wheeling the scrum. "They are very good to do the sidestep and not keep the pressure straight," the 31-year-old prop said. "So we have to work all together and stay low and straight."
Italy have a proud scrummaging reputation © PA Photos
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