Italy not buying into Wallabies lean 2018 record

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Italy coach Conor O'Shea says his team would be "delusional" to be thinking about any history-making victory over the Wallabies this weekend, despite Australia's lean 2018 results.

The Italians pushed Australia for much of their last encounter in Brisbane in 2017 and the Wallabies' record this year has turned out worse than last.

O'Shea was quick to pour water on any possibility that his side were letting dreams of victory get into their minds.

"If we start thinking that this Australian side is anything other than one of the top sides in the world - they're way ahead of us in terms of rankings, they play top level rugby every week - we'd be delusional," he said

"We've just got to go out to play every minute as if it's the last minute and then as the match wears on if we can stay with them, see which way the pressure flows, is it going to go more on us or them?"

The Wallabies and coach Michael Cheika come into the match under immense pressure with just three wins from their past 13 Tests and only two left in 2018, making Sunday morning's (AEDT) encounter a critical one.

O'Shea went into bat for the Wallabies when asked about the perception of the Australians after their 2018 so far.

"It's a difficult year when you have to the Rugby Championship against the All Blacks the whole time isn't it?," he said.

"Stats are funny to me that people  just chop them out and say, I don't want to denigrate, but if you want 100% you play against weaker teams the whole time. Australia have to play the most unbelievable championship with travel against the top teams.

"One bounce of the ball, one bit of confidence can just change everyone's perception.

"I look at the rugby, the type of rugby, the style of rugby they play and you know being typically Australian, they'll get it right for the World Cup I have no doubt. Every match they have is on a knife edge and I talk about it the whole time here -t here are moments in matches that change matches and when they start going your way, that can change very, very quickly."

Italy have had their own pressure in recent times, with Georgia putting pressure on World Rugby to introduce a Six Nations relegation/promotion system that would put Italy in the gun.

The Italians quelled some of that appetite last weekend, though, beating Georgia in Florence relatively comfortably.

Now, they have a chance to push the Wallabies, before a clash with the All Blacks to round out their November, a challenge O'Shea is embracing, keen to push his side to rugby's "top table"..

They'll be without captain Sergio Parisse for a second week but the immense game from Abraham Steyn last week in his place would give Italian fans plenty of confidence.

Italy has made just one change to the team that got that win in Georgia, with Jayden Hayward at fullback insteaf of Luca Sperandio.

The Wallabies announced their team earlier on Thursday local time.

Australia takes on Italy in Padova on Saturday November 17, kicking off at 3pm local, Sunday 1am AEDT, LIVE on beIN Sports Channel 515 and SBS.


IN: Jayden Hayaward

OUT: Luca Sperandio 

 Italy to face Wallabies

1. Andrea Lovotti

2. Leonardo Ghiraldini

3. Simone Ferrari

4. Alessandro Zanni

5. Dean Budd

6. Sebastian Negri

7. Jake Polledri

8. Abraham Steyn

9. Tito Tebaldi

10. Tommaso Allan

11. Mattia Bellini

12. Tommaso Castello

13. Michele Campagnaro

14. Tommaso Benvenuti

15. Jayden Hayward


16. Luca Bigi

17. Cherif Traore

18. Tiziano Pasquali

19. Marco Fuser

20. Johan Meyer

21. Gugliemo Palazzani

22. Carlo Canna

23. Luca Morisi