Six Nations 2015: Italy need confidence to defeat Ireland

Sergio Parisse believes the Azzurri can defeat Ireland again in Rome if they make the most of their opportunities

Sergio Parisse believes Italy can defeat Six Nations champions Ireland when the two sides meet in the opening round of the this year’s tournament.

The Azzurri will be out to even the score after shipping seven tries in a 46-7 defeat at the Aviva Stadium last March with the same number also conceded in their final match against England.

If we play 100 games against Ireland we would probably lose 98 so we have a small opportunity to beat them, but we have to play every match with this ambition.

Sergio Parisse

It was a poor campaign, but perhaps more disappointing for Jacques Brunel’s men was the way they coughed up a win to Scotland as Duncan Weir landed a last-minute drop-goal attempt for a 21-20 win at the Stadio Olimpico, which ultimately handed them another whitewash.

The Italy captain gives his side a two per cent chance of defeating Ireland, as they did 22-15 when the nations met in Rome two years ago, but they must realise their ambition and find the confidence against the northern hemisphere’s big boys.

“As Italians, we are not at the same level as Ireland,” Parisse said.

“We beat them two years ago, but last year they won by 40 points in Dublin.

“It is important for us to be competitive and see if we are really, really far from them or if we are able to play a full match at our best and beat a team like Ireland, because we are going to play them in a few months’ time at the World Cup.

“It is important for us mentally to know we can beat these teams.

“If we play 100 games against Ireland we would probably lose 98 so we have a small opportunity to beat them, but we have to play every match with this ambition.

“We have to try to be competitive against every team we play at the Six Nations.”

Italy have struggled to make much progress after a superb 2013 campaign that brought home wins over France and Ireland to secure a fourth-place finish in the year Ireland finished fourth in the championship.

[Ireland] are a very complete team – they have good backs, good forwards, they are very dynamic especially in terms of defence.

Sergio Parisse

But Ireland bounced back under Joe Schmidt, pushing the All Blacks close in November 2013, before securing the 2014 Six Nations on the final day with a win over France in Paris.

More success came their way last November as wins over Australia and South Africa led to Ireland becoming the northern hemipshere’s top nation, moving into World Rugby’s top three behind New Zealand and South Africa.

And Parisse concedes that Ireland are currently the premier nation in the northern hemisphere and will be tough to defeat despite injuries to a number of players, including talisman Johnny Sexton.

“We have shown we can be competitive and we can win like when we beat very good teams in 2013,” he added.

“But last year we played a poor Six Nations and that is the difference between a great team and a team who can get a great result, but do not have the same consistency.

“That is the target this year — to have more consistency, especially in the three matches we play at home.

“Ireland are probably the best team in the northern hemisphere; everyone saw how Ireland played in November.

“They are a very complete team, they have good backs, good forwards, they are very dynamic especially in terms of defence.

“They are good at the turnover, at building mauls and getting in front of teams — they are a difficult team to play against.

“I know they have some injuries, but they will arrive with a very competitive side.”

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