Mallett laments Italy schedule
Milan - Italy's prospects in next month's internationals could be harmed by the order of the fixtures, coach Nick Mallett said on Thursday.
Italy host Argentina, Australia and Fiji but would rather have played the last game first to better prepare for the tougher Tests.
Their lack of clout in the rugby fraternity means Italy have to accept the schedule despite the risk of a damaging series of defeats before next year's Six Nations and World Cup.
"They are a good side Argentina and I'm a bit concerned because if we don't beat them then psychologically I've got to try to pick the guys up for a game against Australia," Mallett told Reuters.
"I know the pressure builds after that and the guys can't have a bad game against Australia because then the game against Fiji becomes a tough game. Unfortunately we've got to take what they have given us."
Mallett was late for a sponsor's appointment at a swanky Milan hotel because his Sat Nav broke but the South African, who won 17 straight games in charge of his native side in 1997-98, knows his way around international rugby as well as anyone.
His nurturing of an Italy team still feeling their way having been added to the Six Nations in 2000 meant a similarly tough schedule last November ended in victory over Samoa after decent displays in defeats by New Zealand and South Africa.
"Last year we could have been smashed by the time we got to Samoa but what I've been proud about with this team, given the fact we haven't won many games, is they have never lost heart," the towering Mallett added.
"It's taking that next step up and getting closer to the better sides. I always think Italy is going to struggle against the top three or four in the world."