Italy on the up after June Series

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Italy coach Conor O’Shea believes his team can become a force in world rugby, after a promising June series.

The Italians whittled down a 15-point lead to just one point late in the game against the Wallabies, before two late tries blew out the margin.

Though O’Shea was bitterly disappointed, he found plenty of reasons for optimism at the end of their mid-year Tests.

“I'm gutted we lost - we're not here to come second and we had a great chance out there but Australia can create things from nothing,” he said.

“I'm gutted for them (the players), but I'm so proud because over three weeks we saw, when we're together how good we can become and I'm fast forwarding two years to a World Cup and we'll have four months with them.”

O’Shea stopped short of criticising the TMO decision that denied his side an early try, more concerned about the delay in giving a yellow card to the Wallabies.

“You could argue the easier one was it went seven or eight penalties on scrums without a yellow card being given,” he said.

“We have to stay very mentally strong because we're playing and competing at the very highest level against top teams.

“We're not getting any easy opponents, like pick a fight like a heavyweight getting up through, we're playing at the top and as long as we keep on learning, working, we'll turn that corner and when we do we'll be happy.

“So, I never focus on that.”

Though O’Shea lamented a late yellow card for his own player, Abraham Steyn, his overall mood was a positive one.

“At the moment, there's so many little things going through my head as to ,'Why did we contest that last box kick at 28-27, just let the Wallabies have it,' but that comes with experience,” he said.

“The more we put ourselves in these positions, the more actually it'll start going the other way.”

Italy’s players will go into their off-season now, before the 2017-18 European year begins in August.