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Rugby World Cup 2023 Team Preview - Italy

Rugby World Cup 2023 Team Preview - Italy - Absolute Rugby

Matthew Buckland |

With the Rugby World Cup quickly approaching, it seems like a good time to take a look at some of the big teams involved in the tournament. Today we’re having a look at how Italy are going to fare heading into the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

Italy heading into the tournament

This might be the best Italian rugby team that has ever gone to a Rugby World Cup before. Former All Black and New Zealand U19 World Cup winning coach Kieran Crowley took over the team in May 2021 and has created an incredibly exciting, young and talented team who is looking to make a big impact at this tournament.

The last few years have seen legends like Sergio Parisse, Alessando Zanni and Leonardo Ghiraldini retire, but there is an incredibly exciting young group of players coming through. Despite being a massively transitional period, Italy are still pulling out some impressive wins over the last few years.

In 2022 they ended their six year drought without beating a tier 1 nations by beating Wales in the Six Nations. They backed that performance up by beating Australia in Florence in November last year, as well as beating Samoa. Those are three impressive wins and Italy have some incredibly impressive performances on their resume.

Earlier this year they lost to reigning Grand Slam winners France by just five points. In the entire Six Nations they were not blown away by any team, only losing to eventual grand slam winners Ireland by two scores. This is a really impressive young Italian team heading into this tournament.

Italy’s XV for the tournament

Italy have a brilliant squad that has a lot of inexperienced players coming through the ranks. That does make it slightly difficult to pick their team. With four experienced props, it is not easy to say who will start for Italy. Hooker is slightly more simple with Gianmarco Lucchesi ruled out of the tournament.

Marco Riccioni’s injury is a big blow to this team and so Simone Ferrari will need to start. While it seems most likely for Crowley to go with the Benetton pairing for this tournament, former England U20 Dino Lamb could break into this team, having recently been called into the squad.

Their backline seems slightly set, with the major question being the team’s number 8. While Lorenzo Cannone has been the team’s starter for the last 12 months, Toa Halafihi is getting a lot of time in the warm up games and I think that means he is being lined up to start.

Number 9 seems to be a slight issue at the moment, with Stephen Varney picking up an injury in the warm up game against Ireland. While a Garbisi 9-10 connection is possible, I Imagine if Varney is out Italy will go for Alessandro Fusco instead.

The centres are interesting because 20 year old Tommaso Menoncello has made a lot of appearances for this Italian team, but I think Crowley will look for experience outside of Garbisi at 10. Italy have a few exciting wingers, with former England U20 winger Paolo Odogwu recently brought into the team and likely to start.

While Tommaso Allan is the more experienced option, it sounds like electric superstar Ange Capuozzo will be healthy for the start of the tournament and so he has to start at 15 for this team.

1.Danilo Fischetti- Zebre

2.Giacomo Nicotera-Benetton

3.Simone Ferrari-Benetton

4.Niccolo Cannone-Benetton

5.Federico Ruzza-Benetton

6.Sebastian Negri-Benetton

7.Michele Lamaro-Benetton

8.Toa Halafihi-Benetton

9.Alessandro Fusco-Zebre

10.Paolo Garbisi-Montpellier

11.Paolo Odogwu-Benetton

12.Luca Morisi-London Irish

13.Ignacio Brex-Benetton

14.Monty Ioane-Lyon

15.Ange Capuozzo-Toulouse

Players to watch in this Italian team

While Ange Capuozzo takes most of the applause in this team, there are brilliant players throughout the team. Michele Lamaro is a brilliant captain, who is also wonderful over the ball and a passionate player. Paolo Garbisi is going to be crucial to this team and he can be the superstar fly-half that Italy have been looking for.

Sebastian Negri was one of the standout player’s of the Six Nations earlier this year, but he is going to have a massive test at the Rugby World Cup. The pair of Italian wingers are going to make a big difference at this tournament.

What are Italy’s chances at this tournament

While there is a lot of positivity about this Italian team, they are very unfortunate to be in an almost impossible position to reach their first Rugby World Cup quarter-final. Italy are in Pool A with hosts France as well as three time Rugby World Cup champions New Zealand. They are two of the top teams in the world and it is going to make the pool stage incredibly difficult for Italy.

Their record against the All Blacks is pretty poor. Italy have never beaten the All Blacks in 15 attempts. The most recent game between the two sides ended in a 47-9 win for the All Blacks. Fourteen years ago was the last time that Italy even came within two scores of beating the All Blacks.

Italy do have a much better record against France, having beaten France three times. However the last time that Italy beat France was 2013 and the last time they did that on French soil was 1997. This French team is not only one of the best in the world, but will also be backed up by massive home support from the fans.

Italy should not have any issues with the other two games in their pool. Uruguay and Namibia are both teams that Italy should beat and comfortably. It is the two big games which are going to be a real issue for this Italian side.

There is a huge amount of hope in this team, with a lot of young stars who could make the jump into superstars in this tournament. Italy have pushed some very good teams exceptionally close in the past.

But it just feels like this tournament is too much too soon for Italy. The draw has not been kind to them and so it seems like a familiar fate is waiting.

Prediction of Italy’s tournament: Pool Stage exit

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