Dunedin - Geordan Murphy has revealed how he intends to distract Italy's Martin Castrogiovanni when Ireland face the Azzurri in their Rugby World Cup showdown on Sunday - with baskets of chips.
Fullback Murphy and prop forward Castrogiovanni are team-mates at Premiership giants Leicester and are also co-owners of an Italian restaurant near the town in England's East Midlands.
The build-up to this weekend's match at the Otago Stadium which, barring a couple of statistical quirks, both sides need to win to be sure of a place in the quarter-finals, has so far been dominated by talk of an Italy scrum anchored by Castrogiovanni.
It was the scrum which allowed Italy to claim a penalty try that secured a bonus-point 27-10 Pool C win over the United States on Tuesday but Ireland's scrum also laid the platform for their shock 15-6 pool victory against Australia.
"Oh yeah, definitely, I'm big into my scrummaging," the 33-year-old Murphy, who as a fullback is well away from the setpiece, jokingly told reporters on Wednesday. "I'll be telling my forwards all about it."
Murphy, capped 72 times by Ireland, then unveiled his plan to put the hulking Castrogiovanni off his game.
"I'm thinking of leaving some baskets of chips in the corners," he said, sparking laughter from the assembled media at Ireland's hotel. "That should do it. The amount he eats, it should distract him quite nicely."
Asked about the restaurant, Murphy added: "If you look at the shape of both of us, I tend to drink a lot of water and he tends to eat a lot of the food.
"He's been texting me, the closer the game gets, I'm receiving more and more text messages from him. I had one just as I was walking through the door.
"He swears a lot at me in Italian and he's trying to teach me all the bad words. I'm not going to repeat them."
However, on a more serious note, Murphy said: "He's a good mate of mine, he's a fantastic prop and he's a different character off the field to how he is on it. He's certainly one of their key players."
Murphy was well aware of what was at stake on Sunday for an Ireland side that four years ago failed to make it to the knockout phase of the World Cup.
"It's the biggest game of the pool. The Italians, when they lost to the Australians, they've said they're targeting this game.
"They want to reach the quarter-finals, which basically means they're saying they want to beat Ireland."
Although Ireland have won 15 Tests in a row against Italy, their last meeting saw them scrape a 13-11 Six Nations victory in Rome in February thanks to Ronan O'Gara's late drop-goal.
"They've improved massively," Murphy said of Italy. "They're a serious side. they're a very physical side but they're playing some good football with that now and some of the tries they've scored at the World Cup have been good tries.
"Our backs will be against the wall as much as theirs will."
Italy coach Nick Mallett, speaking immediately after Tuesday's victory over the United States, said: "We know perfectly well we have a better front row than Ireland.
"If our front row put us on the front foot, we can win the game," the former South Africa boss added.
But Ireland's Australian defence coach, Les Kiss, said the match would be about more than scrummaging alone.
"The scrum is one part of the game, it's a very important part and it's going to play its part at some stage but we've got other parts of our game we'll bring as well."
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