Rugby World Cup 2011

Masi returns for Ireland clash

2011-09-30 11:48
Andrea Masi (File)

Dunedin - Italy fullback Andrea Masi was recalled to the side on Friday for their decisive and final Rugby World Cup pool clash against Ireland on Sunday.

Masi, a 63-Test veteran, missed the 27-10 win over the United States in Nelson on Tuesday with a calf strain and was the only change from that match to the starting line-up, with Luke McLean, fullback against the Eagles, dropping down to the bench.

That victory gave Italy a shot at a first World Cup quarter-final appearance if they beat Ireland at the Otago Stadium in what is effectively a playoff for one of the two last eight places on offer out of Pool C.

Two-time champions Australia are expected to seal the other quarter-final berth if they, as has been widely predicted, complete a bonus-point win over rugby minnows Russia on Saturday.

Italy have lost their last 15 Tests against Ireland with a late drop-goal from flyhalf Ronan O'Gara, in the Irish starting side this weekend, condemning them to a heartbreaking 13-11 defeat in the Six Nations in Rome in February.

But Italy coach Nick Mallett, speaking after the team was announced here on Friday, said: "This team has improved so much on the mental side in my view over the last 18 months that what happened in the last Six Nations is a matter of frustration, not a matter of they can't get over the line.

"If you are getting better there must come a time when you are getting as good as your opponents and Italy are nearing that time."

If Italy lose on Sunday, the match will mark the end of Mallett's four years in charge of the Azzurri as Italian rugby chiefs announced before the World Cup that Frenchman Jacques Brunel would be replacing the former Springbok boss.

"This match isn't about my last match or second last match hopefully," Mallett insisted.

"It's much more about the development of this side and Italy now being respected by every other side.

"We've completely turned around the way people think about Italy. Teams used to put their 'B' team in against Italy and they don't do that any more.

"It will be a difficult day for me because I am very close to the players.

"I don't really have to talk to the players about this game.

"Motivation is the last thing (I need to do)."



15 Andrea Masi, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Gonzalo Canale, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Mirco Bergamasco, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Fabio Semenzato, 8 Sergio Parisse (captain), 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Cornelius van Zyl, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Salvatore Perugini

Substitutes: 16 Fabio Ongaro, 17 Andrea Lo Cicero, 18  Marco Bortolami, 19 Paul Derbyshire, 20 Edoardo Gori, 21 Riccardo Bocchino, 22 Luke McLean


15 Rob Kearney, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Brian O'Driscoll (captain), 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Cian Healy.

Substitutes: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Tom Court, 18 Donnacha Ryan, 19 Denis Leamy, 20 Eoin Reddan, 21 Jonathan Sexton, 22 Andrew Trimble


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