1. 2016 RBS Six Nations Rugby Table - The Rugby Forum
    Table updated after last fixture of the weekend

Pressure no problem for Italy skipper

Discussion in '2018 NatWest Six Nations' started by Bullitt, Jan 29, 2010.

  1. Bullitt

    Bullitt Guest

    Italy's acting captain Leonardo Ghiraldini insists he won't be affected by the added pressure of leading his country in this year's Six Nations championship.

    This year's competition - Ghiraldini's third - will see the 25-year-old skipper the national side for the first time in the Six Nations.

    The hooker was chosen by Italy coach Mallett to replace injured skipper Sergio Parisse, who ruptured knee ligaments back in November.

    "As captain, I do have more responsibilities with respect to the past," said Ghiraldini.

    "But I do not feel any more pressure at all."

    Having previously represented Italy at under-18, under-19, under-21 and A level, Ghiraldini made his World Cup bow against Portugal at the 2007 event before stamping his authority as an Italy hooker during the 2008 Six Nations.

    The former Calvisano captain has the full trust of his team-mates and coach.

    "He has personality," Mallett said.

    "Leonardo has captained Italy twice before when Sergio has been unavailable.

    "He is part of a world class front row and I think that hooker is a very good position to captain a side from.

    "Of course we will miss Sergio, but you can't be a one-man team - that really would be a sad state of affairs."

    "We now have some very good international players," said Mallett.

    "We have broadened the base in terms of being able to pick for the squad than two years ago. We are not in such dire straits as we were."

    Ghiraldini led the Azzurri last June and replaced Parisse in Italy's final Test match in November against Samoa.

    The absence of Parisse is, nevertheless, a huge blow to the team.

    "We know Sergio is a very important player for our team," Ghiraldini said.

    "And we will do our best in the Six Nations for him. But after his injury back in November, we had a good reaction and won a key match against Samoa.

    "We hope we can win more games, showing the same spirit we showed against Samoa."

    That Test match in Italy was a big boost in confidence for the Azzurri as it marked their first-ever triumph against Samoa. It also ended a 13-match winless streak for Mallett's squad.

    "We did a good job in November," Ghiraldini said.

    "We are heading in the right direction. After honourable defeats against South Africa and New Zealand, we got a victory on merit.

    "I believe from our Test matches in the summer, something has changed in the group. We are more aware of our own strength."

    Ghiraldini says his primary focus will be on his own team rather than what the Azzurri are likely to come up against.

    Mallett's men go into the tournament looking to redeem themselves after wooden-spoon performances in 2008 and 2009.

    They have won just one of their last ten games in the Six Nations - a 23-20 victory over Scotland in Rome in March 2008.

    "We want to be competitive in any game and win at least one match in this year's tournament," said Ghiraldini.

    "It will be very important for us to focus on our strengths, to keep improving as a team and not challenge our opponents on their strengths."

    The Treviso hooker has reason to be cautious for Italy could not have asked for a more challenging calendar.

    The Azzurri take on Grand Slam title holders Ireland at Croke Park in their opening match on February 6 before hosting England at the Stadio Flaminio eight days later.

    The Italians will then face Scotland in Rome before travelling to Paris to take on France and ending the tournament against Wales at the Millennium Stadium on March 20.

  2. Forum Ad Advertisement

Enjoyed this thread? Register to post your reply - click here!

Share This Page