x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Italy will not plot a new course against Russia at Rugby World Cup

Sergio Parisse, the captain, is not focusing too much on their try count, or a change to expansive play in their Pool C match.

AUCKLAND // Ireland's shock victory over Australia on Saturday has had many recalculating the course of the Rugby World Cup, but Sergio Parisse said Italy, the other team considered capable to qualify from Pool C, will not change their game plan in the pursuit of tries and a bonus point when they face Russia tomorrow.

Securing a bonus point through scoring four or more tries against the Russians could prove crucial for the Six Nations side, but the captain wants to secure victory against the underdogs first through the work of their usual combustive forwards.

"We won't rush the way we play, but will try to keep the rhythm high to cause Russia difficulties," Parisse, the No 8, said.

"This match is like any match in that you need the forwards to play well to cause the opposition problems. The match starts with the forwards and we have to have a good match."

Most had expected Italy's final group match against Ireland on October 2 to decide which of the two teams would finish second in the group behind Australia and qualify for the quarter-finals.

Despite the upset, Parrise knows that Italy will need to start scoring tries if they are to reach the knockout stages.

"We knew before the Ireland versus Australia match that we would need to start scoring tries," he said "It won't mean we will change our approach or start to run the ball from our own line. If we need to we will kick for field position.

Ireland's triumph at Eden Park on Saturday has changed the plotted course of half of the World Cup draw, but for the Italians, who lost 32-6 to Australia in their opening match, will still be aiming to build a platform for their backline through their forwards, Parisse said.

"We need to put pressure on the scrums and the line-outs so that we can give Andrea Masi and Tommaso Benvenuti the chance to show their ability."

The Italians have never reached the knockout stages at a World Cup but would still be expected to deal comfortably with the Russians, who lost to the United States in their World Cup debut last week.

"I suppose we are the favourites and sometimes when you are favourites you don't mentally prepare properly. As such our mental approach has to be spot on," Parisse said.

"We are used to being the underdogs, as Russia are tomorrow, but anything can happen at a World Cup and we have already seen smaller teams cause problems for bigger sides."

Luciano Orquera, the replacement fly-half, is a late withdrawal from the Italy squad because of an ankle injury and has been replaced on the bench by the centre Gonzalo Canale.