Thierry Dusautoir (AFP)
London - France captain Thierry Dusautoir is such an inspiration to his team that if Italy prevent him from playing his game they have a chance of winning their World Cup opening Pool D game on Saturday, said veteran flank Mauro Bergamasco.
Bergamasco, 36 and who is set to play in his fifth World Cup, professed undying admiration for his fellow flanker, whose form nevertheless has dipped since the heady heights of being named world player of the year in 2011.
However, the 33-year-old Toulouse star is set to lead out the French on Saturday at Twickenham unlike Italian captain and their only really world class player Sergio Parisse, who is still recovering from an operation last Monday.
Bergamasco, who has 104 caps to his name since his debut back in 1998, admitted the way the French have performed in their three warm-up games -- two wins against England and Scotland and a defeat at the hands of the English -- had set alarm bells ringing.
The Italians by contrast have lost three tests, twice to the Scots -- one a real hammering -- and a narrow defeat by Wales.
"We've seen France playing well against England and Scotland and they've done very well to win two out of their three preparation matches," said Bergamasco, now playing his club rugby for Italian outfit Zebre after a distinguished spell with French giants Stade Francais.
"We know France well and we will have to find something else to beat them at Twickenham, but it certainly won't be easy.
"Dusautoir is a complete player, a great defender, but someone who carries the ball very well.
"When he does something special on the field, either in defence or attack, it galvanises the team and they all follow him.
"He is a leader on the field, a complete player, physically and technically, and a rallying point for the whole team."
The Italians -- who have never made the knockout stages of the sport's global showpiece -- will also play minnows Canada and Romania but have Six Nations champions Ireland also awaiting them.