Rugby World Cup 2011
Six Nations pain spurs Italy
Leonardo Ghiraldini galloping through the Russian defence(Getty Images)
Dunedin - Italy hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini believes Italy can take heart from their nail biting Six Nations loss to Ireland ahead of their Rugby World Cup showdown with their European rivals, insisting the Azzurri could now "beat anyone in the world".
Both teams need to win Sunday's match at Dunedin's Otago Stadium to be sure of a place in the quarter-finals with the losers knocked out should Australia, as expected, beat outsiders Russia.
The last time Italy met Ireland, in this season's Six Nations in Rome in February, the Irish came away with a 13-11 win but only after Ronan O'Gara's desperately late drop-goal.
However, the tournament also saw Italy beat France 22-21, traditionally one of Europe's strongest rugby countries, for a first Six Nations victory over 'Les Bleus'.
"Certainly in February the final score (against Ireland) was disappointing but it was one of those games where we showed if we stick to our game plan we can beat everyone today in the world.
"We showed it against France when we beat them"
Italy's scrum overwhelmed the United States during Tuesday's 27-10 Pool C victory but Ireland also did a number on Australia's set piece in a 15-6 win over the Wallabies that have been the shock result of this World Cup so far.
"We certainly respect the Irish scrum, I'm sure it will be a great challenge for us but we are very fit as forwards and very confident and we want to show how strong we are against the Irish," Italy vice-captain Ghiraldini said.
"I think scrummaging in general has always been strength of the Italian team but I think over the last few years we have made great improvements."
Italy forwards coach Carlo Orlandi added: "Our front row is very strong, one of the best in the world.
"On paper, yes (our front row is better than Ireland's) but you must show every game if this is true or not.
"We have a 'gun' and it's the scrum. We don't know how many bullets we have, but we have a gun."
Four years ago in France, Italy missed out on a World Cup quarter-final spot after a heartbreaking 18-16 loss to Scotland in St Etienne.
However, Ghiraldini said Italy were now a more mature team.
"2007 was a particular Rugby World Cup for us and we missed the quarter-finals by just a few points. But over the last four years we have grown up a lot."