Experience to steer Ireland home – Ireland v Italy

  • A win ?
  • A draw ?
  • A defeat with two bonus point?

Nobody really cares which way Ireland do it, all of the above work as results on Sunday which would see Ireland go through to the knockout stages. The euphoria of that win over Australia is over, it’s time to knuckle down. We always knew that the Australia game would be a challenge, but really it was always going to come down to the game against Italy.

Italy know what they have to do, they plan on dominating the scrum and not letting Ireland play a running game. We’ve heard this talk before but this time (despite all the pre-match chatter), Kidney is aware that Italy could do this.

Experience comes in the form of O’Gara at fly-half, the playmaker will be expected to control the game, but Kidney has sprung a surprise by offering Conor Murray only his second international start at scrum-half

O’Driscoll who sat out the Russia game, will return to captain the team and he has absolute faith in Murray:

“He’s new but he’s dealing with it extremely well. He’s a confident young man, very much in his depth in the surroundings and you wouldn’t know he has a handful, not even a handful, of Tests under his belt.”

The pack is unchanged from the team that beat Australia, although O’Connell will undergo a late test on his hamstring. Leo Cullen who captain the win over Russia will be on standby to step in.

Andrea Masi returns to the Italy side after a calf muscle injury forced his late withdrawal from their win over the United States (McLean drops to the bench to make way for Masi).

 

IRELAND Team & Replacements (v Italy, 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool C, Otago Stadium, Sunday, October 2, kick-off 8.30pm local time/8.30am Irish time):

15 – Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster)
14 – Tommy Bowe (Ospreys)
13 – Brian O’Driscoll (UCD/Leinster) (capt)
12 – Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
11 – Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster)
10 – Ronan O’Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster)
9 – Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
1 – Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
2 – Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster)
3 – Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster)
4 – Donncha O’Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster)
5 – Paul O’Connell (Young Munster/Munster)
6 – Stephen Ferris (Dungannon/Ulster)
7 – Sean O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster)
8 – Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster)

Replacements:

16 – Sean Cronin (Leinster)
17 – Tom Court (Malone/Ulster)
18 – Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster)
19 – Denis Leamy (Cork Constitution/Munster)
20 – Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
21 – Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
22 – Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)

 

Italy team

Andrea Masi; Tommaso Benvenuti, Gonzalo Canale, Gonzalo Garcia, Mirco Bergamasco; Luciano Orquera, Fabio Semenzato; Sergio Parisse (captain), Mauro Bergamasco, Alessandro Zanni, Cornelius van Zyl, Quintin Geldenhuys, Martin Castrogiovanni, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Salvatore Perugini. Reserves: Fabio Ongaro, Andrea Lo Cicero, Marco Bortolami, Paul Derbyshire, Edoardo Gori, Riccardo Bocchino, Luke McLean.