Despite Italy suffering a crushing defeat at the hands of England last week, and his own team's victory (pictured) over France, Ireland coach Declan Kidney remained wary before his team's Six Nations match against the Italians in Rome.
AFP - Ireland coach Declan Kidney said he was reading nothing into Italy's thrashing at Twickenham last weekend ahead of Sunday's Six Nations clash at Rome's Stadio Flaminio.
Italy paid for an error-strewn display a week ago as they lost 36-11 to England while Ireland began their campaign with an impressive 30-21 win against France.
But the disparity in the way the two sides have kicked off the 2009 Six Nations has not left Kidney feeling over-confident.
"Italy have always been a formidable side for us. In the fixture last year, if a couple of kicks had gone over it would have been a draw," he said.
"Like all things in sport, Italy will beat Ireland some time. Their athleticism is something I admire.
"Some people put it down as physicality and their statistics at the scrum and the line-out are very strong.
"There is a press defence that doesn't change from week to week and the pitch is slightly smaller, less space.
"It is easy to spot that some of Italy's players are playing in France because if you make a mistake, they can easily get seven to 10 points up."
Italy gifted England three tries in the first half hour a week ago to essentially put themselves out of touch at 19-0 down with 50 minutes still to play although thereafter they did run the English fairly close.
While Italy have few stars in comparison to the likes of Brian O'Driscoll and some of the other Irish players, Kidney believes that the Italians' South African coach Nick Mallett can make a big difference to the team.
"Italy play in a way I admire and there is nobody better than Nick Mallet to get the best out of teams," he added.
"He can get that little bit extra out of players. If you take the 17 points (19) off what England scored last week there was nothing in the game.
"This is a test match, we are representing our country. Everybody who is a sports person knows that any given team can beat any given team on any day. I'll be delighted with a one point win."
Ireland captain O'Driscoll is convinced that it will be a very different Italy that lines up Flaminio to the one that took to the field at Twickenham.
"That wasn't the Italian team at Twickenham that we have come to expect over the years," he said.
"They have gifted England 17 points (19) early on. It is a long way to have to come back.
"They will look to their normal game, play hard physical rugby and I?m sure they will be hard to beat."
Italy have never beaten Ireland in the Six Nations but last year they went down only 16-11 in Dublin.
Date created : 2009-02-15