Grit and determination hallmarks of the Azzurri
Brunel must decide whether Gori’s partner is Treviso team-mate Kris Burton, Luciano Orquera or Alberto di Bernardo.
Tommaso Benvenuti had the hopes of a nation pinned to his broad shoulders as a teenager, cited as the forerunner to a new breed of exciting young backs. He has shown glimpses of his talent in the intervening period on the wing and in the centre, but is reliant on that’s happening closer to the hub of the game to provide an impact.
Giovanbattista Venditti is a physically strong wing, who can also play, in the centre and has a couple of tries in his nine caps while the usual suspects remain in Gonzalo Garcia, Gonzalo Canale, Andrea Masi and Alberto Sgarbi.
One of the sport’s outstanding footballers Sergio Parisse will lead by name and deed, a formidable pack that is underpinned by athleticism and power. Italy beat Tonga in November (tries came from the pack), lost narrowly to a second string Australian side and were well beaten by New Zealand.
They have France, Wales and Ireland at home. Twickenham will hold plenty of fears, Murrayfield none.
Italy will be cussed opponents at home and possibly in Edinburgh but unless their back play evolves the one-off victories will remain a staple diet.
They must also solve the riddle of why they struggle to last the pace competitively over the 80 minutes.
Stopping the Italian pack is a slogan that the Azzurri must change to alter their Six Nations’ fortunes.
Six Nations pointers
They’ve three home matches against France, Wales and Ireland and will expect to be competitive in each one. They’ll fancy their chances in going to Murrayfield. Italy’s back play, their work at halfback and their discipline must get appreciably better; even a marginal improvement will make them tougher to beat.
Sergio Parisse has been recognised as an outstanding player in global terms which merely emphasises his prodigious ability given that the Italian national team is hardly the ideal platform. The number eight has wonderful skills and is the heartbeat of his team.
Eduardo Gori has been charged with injecting some pace and rhythm into the Italian game. It’s all been a bit predictable, one-out runners and slow, laboured decision making. He’ll try and change that philosophy.
Six Nations Squad
Backs: Tommaso Benvenuti (Treviso) Tobias Botes (Treviso) Kristopher Burton (Treviso) Paolo Buso (Zebre) Gonzalo Canale (La Rochelle) Gonzalo Garcia (Zebre) Edoardo Gori (Treviso) Tommaso Iannone (Treviso) Andrea Masi (Wasps) Luke McLean (Treviso) Luciano Orquera (Zebre) Alberto Sgarbi (Treviso) Giovanbattista Venditti (Zebre)
Forwards: Roberto Barbieri (Treviso) Valerio Bernabo (Treviso) Martin Castrogiovanni (Leicester) Lorenzo Cittadini (Treviso) Alberto De Marchi (Treviso) Paul Derbyshire (Treviso) Simone Favaro (Treviso) Joshua Furno (Narbonne) Quintin Geldenhuys (Zebre) Leonardo Ghiraldini (Treviso) Davide Giazzon (Zebre) Andrea Lo Cicero (Racing Metro) Francesco Minto (Treviso) Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais) Antonio Pavanello (Treviso) Michele Rizzo (Treviso) Ratu Manoa Vosawai (Treviso) Alessandro Zanni (Treviso)