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Italy wary of Ireland spoiling tactics

Date

ROME: Australian-born utility back Luke McLean says Italy must try to combat Ireland's spoiling tactics if they are to emerge victorious from Saturday's Six Nations match in Dublin.

Italy sit bottom of the table following defeats to France and England while Ireland similarly have no points after losing to Wales, before their clash in Paris was postponed due to the weather.

Italy have shown improvement in certain areas of their game, notably running with the ball in hand, under French coach Jacques Brunel.

But it is at the breakdown that McLean, who is likely to figure on the wing in Ireland, says they must watch out.

"They're perhaps the best team in the world at the breakdown, they do everything to slow down the ball and they do it well because they're not penalised by the referees," he said.

"In training (on Monday) we studied how we can beat them on this plan, we have to get the ball out quickly."

While Italy are playing a more expansive game, McLean says they now have to improve their ability to convert good play into points.

"We saw in our last two matches that we tried to play a bit more with the ball in hand and getting it wider," he added.

"We want to exploit the few chances we create."

Centre Gonzalo Canale, who was restored to the starting line-up against England having sat on the bench in Paris, concurred with his team-mate.

"On a world level they're the team who create the most problems at the breakdown," he said.

"From the tackle their defence tries to get on top of the man to slow down the ball and give them a chance of a turnover.

"We've worked a lot on that these last few weeks."

As well as keeping the ball alive, Italy want to increase their possession while omitting the mistakes that have cost them in their first two encounters.

"We're working on the mistakes we made against England in terms of the management of the game," Canale said.

"Since he arrived, Jacques has looked for this philosophy to have more balance between forwards and backs.

"We have to expand this type of game, which is more pleasing on the eye, we need more of the ball and to keep it alive more.

"But there's still a lot to work on, we need to cut out the mistakes, but we're on the right track."

And looking back to last year's fixture when Italy were denied a first ever Six Nations success against Ireland by a last gasp Ronan O'Gara drop goal, Canale admitted it still rankles.

"Last year we were really close to winning, we just lacked a bit of quality in the management of the game," he said.

"We conceded a drop goal from a mistake at the kick-off.

"But we've been able to compete for several years now, we have to be ready mentally."

AFP

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