Italy call up scrum-half Griffen
February 8, 2009
Paul Griffen has won a recall to the Italy squad © Getty Images
Italy coach Nick Mallett has responded to criticism of his decision to play flanker Mauro Bergamasco at scrum-half for Saturday's Six Nations opener with England by calling up veteran Calvisano scrum-half Paul Griffen for next weekend's visit of Ireland.
Bergamasco survived to the break at Twickenham after directly contributing to England's three first-half tries from Andy Goode, Harry Ellis and Riki Flutey and now Mallett has taken the decision to restore Griffen to the squad for the first time since the World Cup in 2007.
Griffen, born in Dunedin, New Zealand, comes in as Italy are nursing injuries to regular No.9s Simon Piccone, Pietro Travagli and Pablo Cannavosio, although Giulio Toniolatti performed admirably following his introduction on Saturday.
"I said before the game the responsibility was mine," said Mallett after his mistake in selecting Bergamasco. "I thought of replacing him after 25 minutes but out of respect I left him on the field. No-one likes to concede tries but I would like to say that Mauro has the support of all the team."
Bergamasco, who has 70 caps for the Azzurri, will likelty return to his usual position on the openside flank for next weekend's game. Mallett has also called up Ulster lock Carlo Antonio del Fava into his squad for a game against an Ireland side flying high after their opening day success over France at Croke Park.