x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Australia to adapt to referee's style and deny Italy territory

The official can hamper 'flowing rugby' at the breakdown and that remains a concern for the Wallabies.

Robbie Deans, the Australia coach, wants the referees' crackdown at the breakdown to remain a priority throughout the Rugby World Cup as the Wallabies begin their campaign in Pool C against Italy today in North Harbour.

Deans said that referees have been instructed to strictly police the contest to prevent a recurrence of the much-criticised 2007 World Cup, when many games were decided on penalty goals at the expense of flowing rugby.

"The breakdown has been communicated as a key area for the referees," Deans said yesterday.

"Let's hope it stays that way, or it could get ugly. When you get two fully committed sides it has that potential and, if we're honest, that's what 2007 was like.

"So hopefully it will remain a priority. Italy will look to play a territory game; they're very good at it."

The Wallabies' star open-side flanker, David Pocock, said his team were familiar with the style of the Irish match referee, Alain Rolland, and would adjust to it.

"We know Alain Rolland's style, and I guess for the team it's a matter of adapting to how he's refereeing and we'll see how we go," he said. Deans is expecting a tough afternoon against the Azzurri, first up for the two-time World Cup champions.

"Every other nation, except England at Twickenham, has really struggled to prevail against them, so we're not presuming anything, and the nature of tournament play is you do or you die."

Also in Pool C today, Ireland take on the United States, and Declan Kidney, the Irish coach, said his side would not overlook their opponents, a third-tier rugby nation.

Kidney said his side's main focus was purely on getting a first win under their belt. "If we win 3-0, we'll take a 3-0 win," he said. "The only points I'm interested in are the four on offer at the start of the game. We're not thinking about bonus points, and we won't be running over anybody," he said.

"Bonus points might come into play, but if you win every match bonus points aren't an issue."

* Agencies