Can the Wallabies bounce back from their loss against England?
Where: Turin, Italy
When: 13.30 (GMT)
Watch live: Click here to watch on NowTV from Sky! to watch with a NOW TV Sky Sports Day Pass! Save 10% this weekend with the code AFWK2021G10
Italy have an historic first victory over a wounded Wallabies side in their sights on Saturday but remain wary of a backlash following the Australians’ recent defeat to England.
Italy’s growing status in the sport was rubber-stamped by their impressive 2013 Six Nations campaign which featured wins over France and Ireland and a narrow, seven-point defeat to England.
On paper, Italy, with former Perpignan coach Jacques Brunel at the helm, could not be meeting the former two-time World Cup champions at a better time.
However, Brunel is not alone in thinking Ewen McKenzie’s side will emerge at the Olympic Stadium looking to make amends for a 20-13 defeat at Twickenham.
The statistics, however, suggest Italy have a real chance to claim what would be their first ever win over Australia in 16 attempts.
Having allowed England to overturn their 13-6 half-time deficit in London, Australia’s dreams of a five-test Grand Slam came undone at the first hurdle.
The pressure on McKenzie, who took over from Robbie Deans in July following Australia’s defeat to the British and Irish Lions, has only intensified.
Ahead of further matches against Ireland, Scotland and Wales, he admits Italy will be a tougher nut to crack than they were this time last year when the Aussies held on to claim a 22-19 win in Florence.
Ewan McKenzie has made only one change from the XV that started against England with Rob Simmons, known primarily as a lock, coming in at blindside flanker to replace Scott Fardy, who is unavailable after suffering concussion last week.
Italy are renowned for their set-piece strength and second row forward Antonio Pavanello believes consistency is the key.
“If there is one point where we can put pressure on Australia, I’m sure it’s in the forwards. But we have to go out and do it, not just talk about it.”
Simmons senses Australia’s forwards could be kept busy throughout.
“It’s a big day for us forwards. If we can nullify their forwards, it will go a good way to winning the game,” he said.
In the absence of Andrea Masi, Australian-born Luke McLean comes in at full-back for Italy.
And having watched last week’s game against England closely, he warned of the danger of momentarily lapses — and of Australia’s sheer desire to chalk a win up on the board.
Head-to-head record between Italy and Australia
Italy wins: 0
Australia wins: 15
Highest Scores: Italy 21-69, 2005; Australia 69-21, 2005
Biggest Wins: Italy n/a; Australia 55-6, 1998
Last five results
2012 Florence: AUS 22-19
2011 Albany (WC): AUS 32-6
2010 Florence: AUS 32-14
2009 Melbourne: AUS 34-12
2009 Canberra: AUS 31-8
Italy v Australia teams for Saturday’s Test match
Luke McLean; Tommaso Benevenuti, Luca Morisi, Alberto Sgarbi, Leonardo Sarto, Alberto Di Bernardo, Edoardo Gori, Sergio Parisse (capt), Robert Barbieri, Alessandro Zanni, Marco Bortolami, Antonio Pavanello, Martin Castrogiovanni, Davide Giazzon, Michele Rizzo
Leonardo Ghiraldini, Matias Aguero, Lorenzo Cittadini, Quintin Geldenhuys Joshua Furno, Tobias Botes, Tommaso Allan Tommaso Iannone
Israel Folau; Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Toomua, Nick Cummins; Quade Cooper, Will Genia; James Slipper, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander; Sitaleki Timani, James Horwill; Rob Simmons, Michael Hooper, Ben Mowen (captain)
Saia Fainga’a, Benn Robinson, Sekope Kepu, Dave Dennis, Liam Gill, Nic White, Christian Leali’ifano, Joe Tomane
Referee: Glen Jackson (NZL)