Six Nations

Italy ready to 'spit blood'

2015-02-06 18:00
Sergio Parisse (AFP)

Rome - Italy captain Sergio Parisse said the Azzurri are ready to "spit blood" in a bid to hand defending champions Ireland their second successive Stadio Olimpico defeat when the sides meet in the Six Nations on Saturday.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has been forced to make several changes to the side that won last year's title, with Brian O'Driscoll (retired), Andrew Trimble, Johnny Sexton, Jamie Heaslip, Cian Healy and Dave Kearney all missing from his squad.

Ireland proved there was life after 'BOD' by winning all three of their recent November Tests, which included victories over South Africa (29-15) and Australia (26-23).

But Ireland's enforced changes mean their starting XV on Saturday will boast 186 combined less caps than a hugely experienced Italy, who claim they are ready to consign last year to the dustbin.

Italy finished with the wooden spoon last year and come into this year's tournament with only one win, against Samoa, to boast of from a disastrous 2014 that saw the Azzurri defeated 10 times.

But while Parisse has hailed Ireland's strength, he claims Italy have fine-tuned a tactical plan -- and is counting on their grit and determination to do the rest as they look to repeat their 2013 feat when they beat the Irish 22-15 in the capital.

"In tactical terms we've prepared for the match in the right way. But you'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out how," Parisse told media following Italy's captain's run at the Olimpico on Friday.

Parisse was asked about Schmidt's decision to opt for Ian Keatley at fly-half, following the Munster player's inclusion in the starting XV at the expense of Ian Madigan.

The big No 8 said: "We expected Madigan but they've chosen Keatley, who attacks the line less than his teammate. It's a bit of a surprise, but we know him. His game is much more similar to that of Sexton.

"He (Keatley) plays at Munster so he's used to top level games and I think for him it will be more about trying to impress than a game in which he will feel under pressure.

"But we're not focused on him. More than anything we're focused on our game and how to make life difficult for Ireland.

"They have a lot of qualities, but tactically we've prepared for this in the right way.

"The lads' hunger is satisfying for me to see. If they (Ireland) play at only 70% (capacity), for sure they will lose. But we have to give it 110%.

"You will see that all 23 of us are ready to spit blood to win this match."

Read more on:    ireland  |  italy  |  six nations  |  sergio parisse  |  rugby

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