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New Zealand v Italy - Teams and Prediction

WORLD CUP, ROUND FOUR: Italy head coach Kieran Crowley says there is “no fear’ in his squad as they aim to upset the All Blacks in their big Pool A encounter in Lyon on Friday.

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The Italians have never beaten the All Blacks and once again they will enter the fixture as massive underdogs.

However, after wins against Namibia and Uruguay, Italy will head into Friday’s fixture with some confidence and they will not allow history to weigh them down as they look to become the first Italian side to secure a victory against the Southern Hemisphere giants.

“That’s history. This is a new team. This team has never played New Zealand and the New Zealand team they’ll name has never played Italy,” said Crowley.

“Yes, there is stats, there is history but history is always there to be broken.

“We are under no illusions as to what is coming. They are going to come at us and they are going to be aggressive and they are going to try to intimidate us. They’ll try to bully us. We have to embrace that challenge.

“This group of 33 players have really matured over the last 18 months. We’ve got a lot more confidence in our ability, they back themselves, they have some courage. We have no fear.

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“If that is going to be good enough, we will have to wait and see because it is going to be one hell of a battle. We are really looking forward to it.

“They are in a situation, same as us, they need to win to move on. So, they are going to try and impart themselves physically on us and really intimidate us, bully us.

“They’ll come direct and they’ll come hard. But it all starts up front. It starts with the low numbers and if the low numbers can get you on top it makes it easier for the others.”

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Crowley is confident his team will not shy away from being adventurous against the All Blacks.

“We’ve got to show some courage, we’ve got to play. We are not going out there to try to keep the score down,” he explained.

“We are going out there to try to win the game. Different game plans suit different teams.

“You look at France or you look at South Africa, they are such big men, they are massive; the way they play doesn’t quite suit us.

“But we are not going to be stupid about how we play. We’ve looked at the way we think we can put pressure on New Zealand and we will attempt to do that in different places.

“We will play though.”

New Zealand v Italy - Teams and Prediction

Meanwhile, despite the one-sided history of this fixture, All Black head coach Ian Foster says he’s seen signs of improvement in Italy’s play under Crowley.

“The last two years, we’ve seen a lot of growth in their game,” he said.

“I thought they were one of the highlights of the Six Nations the way they played and the competitiveness of all their games, so we’re expecting a tough battle.

“Looking back to the history of the last 20, 30 years doesn’t mean a lot come Friday and I think that’s a positive sign for Italy.

“They’ve taken a strategy of growing a young group coming through. They’ve clearly decided to change the way they play and to say: ‘Let’s risk a little bit and see what happens’. And it’s worked well for them.”

Players to watch

For New Zealand: Flank Shannon Frizell is back in the starting team he brings some extra physicality and muscle to the pack. Centre Jordie Barrett is also back from injury and he is an extra decision-maker in that backline. He also has a strong boot on him which will come in handy if things get tight. Lock Brodie Retallick is a colossus in the second row and he will be out to disrupt the Italians’ line-out ball as well. Hooker Codie Taylor is a powerful ball carrier and he has plenty of speed. The All Blacks will be hoping he doesn’t shy away from the physical exchanges as he tends to do in some matches.

For Italy: Playmaker Paolo Garbisi has all the skills to unlock the toughest of defences. However, it all depends on the quality ball his pack can give him. Ange Capuozzo has established himself as a world-class attacking threat and if the All Blacks give him a few inches of space then there could be fireworks out wide. Captain and flank Michele Lamaro was a star in the second-half fightback against Uruguay last week and his aggression in open play will be needed against the All-Blacks. Lock Dino Lamb will also have an intriguing battle with Brodie Retallick in the second row.

Key RWC info

  • This will be the first time they have played at a World Cup since 2007 after their 2019 fixture was postponed due to Cyclone Hagibis.
  • In their sixth pool match, this becomes the most common fixture in the round-robin stages of the World Cup. It surpasses Fiji against Wales who have also met five times in the pool rounds.
  • New Zealand have scored 70 points or more in four of their five RWC games against Italy. Only once have they failed to reach a half century, with only 31 points in 1991.
  • Their 101-3 victory against Italy at RWC 1999 still ranks as their second-largest against any opponent in the tournament’s history.
  • Italy have never scored more than seven first-half points against New Zealand, with just one try inside the opening half in 2007. The average first-half score between these two teams since 1987 has been 30-3.

New Zealand v Italy - Teams and Prediction

New Zealand v Italy - Teams and Prediction

 

Prediction

@rugby365com: New Zealand by 23 points.

Teams:

New Zealand: 15 Beauden Barrett, 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Mark Tele’a, 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Ardie Savea (captain), 7 Dalton Papali’i, 6 Shannon Frizell, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Ofa Tu’ungafasi.
Replacements: 16 Dane Coles, 17 Tamaiti Williams, 18 Tyrel Lomax, 19 Samuel Whitelock, 20 Sam Cane, 21 Cam Roigard, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Anton Lienert-Brown.

Italy: 15 Tommaso Allan; 14 Ange Capuozzo, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Luca Morisi, 11 Montanna Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Stephen Varney, 8 Lorenzo Cannone, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Dino Lamb, 3 Marco Riccioni, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Ivan Nemer, 18 Simone Ferrari 19 Niccolo Cannone, 20 Manuel Zuliani, 21 Toa Halafahi, 22 Martin Page-Relo, 23 Paolo Odogwu.

Date: Friday, September 29
Venue: OL Stadium, Lyon
Kick-off: 21.00 (19.00 GMT; 21.00 CEST; 08.00 Saturday, September 30 NZST)
Expected weather: It will be around 15C by kick-off with slight wind gusts.
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant Referees: Nic Berry (Australia) & Christophe Ridley (England)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)

Additional reporting; AFP

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