Can Italy Prove It Belongs At Autumn Nations Cup?

Italy

Shouts for Italy to be removed from the Six Nations get louder and louder with each passing year. The Azzuri have not won a Six Nations game since 2015, marking 27 consecutive losses in the competition. 

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Many of the voices shouting to remove Italy hail from Georgia, a team Italy could see in the Autumn Nations Cup. There are those who feel that Georgia hasn’t had a fair opportunity to showcase what it can do at the tier-1 level and have to make room for an Italy side hellbent on retaining the wooden spoon. 

However, winning in the Six Nations is awfully difficult, and in all likelihood Georgia would struggle even more than Italy. What the Italians need to do now is silence those critics with some positive results this autumn, particularly if they wind up facing Georgia in the fourth round. 

Roster

Props: Pietro Ceccarelli; Simone Ferrari; Danilo Fischetti; Daniele Rimpelli; Giosué Zilocchi

Hookers: Luca Bigi; Leonardo Ghiraldini; Gianmarco Lucchesi

Locks: Niccolò Cannone; Marco Lazzaroni; David Sisi; Cristian Stoian

Flankers: Maxime Mbanda; Johan Meyer; Sebastian Negri; Braam Steyn

No. 8: Jake Polledri

Scrum-halves: Guglielmo Plazzani; Stephen Varney; Marcello Violi

Fly-halves: Tommaso Allan; Carlo Canna; Paolo Garbisi

Centers: Federico Mori; Luca Morisi; Marco Zanon

Wings: Mattia Bellini; Jacopo Trulla; Luca Sperandio

Fullback: Matteo Minozzi

Strength

The whole of the Italian back row is strong, but no one more so than No. 8 Jake Polledri. The Gloucester man established himself as one the best players in the Premiership this season through his powerful running and ability to beat defenders. 

He is stepping in to fill some enormous shoes left behind by one of the all-time greats in Sergio Parisse, but one year into the new role and Polledri looks like he’s going to be a star. 

Weakness

The second row for Italy heads into the Autumn Nations Cup rather undercooked at the international level. Between their four locks, the Italians boast just 24 caps – Wales’ Alun Wyn Jones has 150 on his own for reference. 

The good thing is that Italy’s second rowers are all young and will have plenty of room for growth. The bad thing is they’re going to be baptized by fire in a competition with some of the best second row partnerships in the world. 

Commentary

Italy desperately needs some good results. They will face Scotland, then Fiji, and then France in Pool B before taking on one of England, Ireland, Wales, or Georgia in Round 4. 

Italy showed some really good passages of play against England a few weeks ago, but were unable to maintain their strong play over the course of 80 min. A huge factor for them in the Autumn Nations Cup will be taking advantage of any opportunities given to them. The longer you go without capitalizing on mistakes at the tier-1 level, the higher the likelihood you’ll be unable to keep pace. 

Schedule

Italy vs Scotland | Nov. 14 | 7:45 am ET

Italy vs Fiji | Nov. 21 | 7:45 am ET

France vs Italy | Nov. 28 | 3:00 pm ET


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