Italy v Australia - Teams and Prediction
PREVIEW: Australia are already looking ahead to next year’s Rugby World Cup as they prepare to face in-form Italy in their third end-of-year Test on Saturday.
Dave Rennie’s team will line up in Florence having lost four of their last five matches, falling narrowly to World Cup hosts France in Paris last weekend.
The New Zealand-born coach has made 11 changes to the starting XV to take on Italy, who opened their November run of Tests with a six-try thumping of Samoa and are hoping for another positive outing against one of the game’s giants.
The Wallabies could do with a turnaround in form in their final three games of 2022, with Ireland and Wales also coming up in November.
“All those Test matches count leading to it. We want to put a name on what the Wallabies will look like in the World Cup next year,” wing Tom Wright told reporters on Wednesday.
“The World Cup is still a long way away and we have three important games left but what we do in these games is going to propel us into next year.”
Rennie will be taking on a familiar face in former All-Black Kieran Crowley, who is trying to turn Italy’s senior team into one which can do damage against rugby’s big boys.
“We’re conscious this is a good Italian side,” said Rennie.
“I know Kieran Crowley well and they’ve made really good shifts in the last 12 months.”
Australia will face Monty Ioane standing across in the field in blue, the Melbourne-born wing in good form going into Saturday’s match.
Wing Ioane scored two tries in the Azzurri’s 49-17 win over Samoa last weekend and retained his place in the side for the game at the Stadio Artemio Franchi on Saturday.
It is the first time that the 28-year-old will play against the country of his birth after qualifying to play for Italy via residency in 2020.
Italy will also have fullback Ange Capuozzo back in the starting line-up as one of four changes to the team from last weekend’s thumping victory which moved them up to 12th place in World Rugby’s global rankings.
Crowley’s team moved above Samoa and Georgia, who had been suggested as Italy’s replacement in the Six Nations during the Azzurri’s 36-match losing streak in the competition.
France-born Capuozzo, whose sensational run set up the stunning late try that beat Wales in March and ended Italy’s run of defeats in the Six Nations, returns and lines up for a side which has won four of its last five Tests.
Players to watch
For Italy: Fullback Ange Capuozzo starts and he can be a livewire when given enough space. One only has to look at his heroics in his team’s final Six Nations game against Wales in Cardiff earlier this year. Wing Monty Ioane has speed and power as he showed against Samoa last week and he will want to prove something against his country of birth. No.10 Paolo Garbisi is a talented playmaker and given enough time with the ball he can ask the Wallabies some serious questions when they are defending. In the pack, the Italians have some abrasive ball carriers in their back row. Michele Lamaro and Sebastian Negri will also make their presence felt in the breakdowns. Italy will also look to apply plenty of pressure on the Aussie scrum and Simone Ferrari, Gianmarco Lucchesi and Danilo Fischetti are powerhouses in that area.
For Australia: Wing Mark Nawaqantiawase will be making his debut and he is a big unit with lethal finishing skills. It will be interesting to see if he can carry that Super Rugby form over to Test rugby. Noah Lolesio gets another opportunity to try and impress in that all-important No.10 jersey. He has been an inconsistent presence in that backline and he will need to show more maturity with the World Cup coming fast. Lolesio’s halfback partner Jake Gordon will have a lot of responsibility when it comes to decision-making to try and take some of the pressure off the flyhalf. In the pack, No.7 Fraser McReight is an all-round player who likes to get disruptive at the breakdowns and that is what the Wallabies will need, especially if it gets tight. Lock Will Skelton is the muscle in the pack, but he just doesn’t have that fear factor about him. Maybe this is the game where he can prove many wrong.
@rugby365com: Australia by two points.
Italy: 15 Ange Capuozzo, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Luca Morisi, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Stephen Varney; 8 Lorenzo Cannone, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Niccolo Cannone, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Giacomo Nicotera, 17 Ivan Nemer, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 David Sisi, 20 Toa Halafihi, 21 Alessandro Garbisi, 22 Tommaso Allan, 23 Tommaso Menoncello.
Australia: 15 Jock Campbell, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Tom Wright, 10 Noah Lolesio, 9 Jake Gordon, 8 Pete Samu, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Ned Hanigan, 5 Will Skelton, 4 Nick Frost, 3 Allan Alaalatoa (captain), 2 Folau Fainga’a, 1 Matt Gibbon.
Replacements: 16 Lachlan Lonergan, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Taniela Tupou, 19 Darcy Swain, 20 Langi Gleeson, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Ben Donaldson, 23 Jordan Petaia.
Date: Saturday, November 12
Venue: Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT; 00.00 AEDT Sunday, November 13)
Expected weather: It will be cloudy with a high of 20°C and a low of 8°C
Referee: Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland) & Adam Leal (Ireland)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
AFP & @rugby365com