Six Nations

Italy's Parisse aiming to avoid French stress

2018-02-22 22:40
Sergio Parisse (Getty Images)

Marseille - Sergio Parisse said Italy must keep things tight in the first part of their Six Nations clash with France on Friday or the "stress" will get to them.

Italy have already conceded more than 100 points in their first two tournament matches -- chastening defeats to England and Ireland.

They conceded three tries within the first 26 minutes at Twickenham three weeks ago, and seven days later were already down by four tries to nil 21 minutes into a torturous afternoon at Lansdowne Road.

Avoiding a disastrous start is paramount against France, the Italy captain said at Thursday's pre-match press conference.

"If we concede quick points against France it will get us down and create stress," said Parisse.

"When we go behind, the stress is obviously greater, but this is the same in every Test for us and (not conceding early points) is fundamental given our first two matches.

"It's important to start well tomorrow."

France have not won in eight matches but Parisse believes the French have been close to winning in their first two tournament outings.

Only a brilliant Johnny Sexton drop goal after the final hooter denied France a win over Ireland, while they led for most of their trip to Edinburgh before ill-discipline cost them and Scotland won thanks to six second-half penalties from Greig Laidlaw.

"When you look at their games against Ireland and Scotland, there wasn't much in it," added Parisse, who plies his club trade at Stade Francais in Paris.

"But for one moment of genius from Sexton in the last moments and a few stupid mistakes at the end against Scotland, we could be sitting here talking about two wins and not about the possibility of France getting the wooden spoon."

However, Parisse is clear that France, ranked 10th in the world, do not pose the same threat in attack that second-placed England and third-placed Ireland do.

What's more, the tournament's top try-scorer, and so far only France player to cross the whitewash, Teddy Thomas is sitting out this match after being one of eight French players punished with a one-match ban by their own federation over an alcohol-fuelled night out in Edinburgh two weeks ago.

But there will be dangers elsewhere against Jacques Brunel's team.

"Against France it will be really competitive in the rucks, it will be a real battle.

"But they scored two tries from individual exploits by a player who's not even here -- they won't be able to show the type of attacking structure that England and Ireland showed in our first two matches.

"But in terms of the combat zone, it will be more difficult for us than the first two matches."

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