Italy's Tommaso Iannone fights for the ball with Tonga's
Taniela Moa . REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo
Italy looked a rusty side in their return to test rugby
against Tonga but one warning shone through for their next
outing against the All Blacks.
When they needed to settle their game they showed they were
still the best set-piece side in Europe, according to All
Blacks assistant Ian Foster.
He and the touring brains trust had analysed clips of their
next opponent and been impressed by some of the work they had
"They are trying a little more adventure," Foster observed.
However they remained a side with a strong reliance on No 8
and captain Sergio Parisse and his halves who ran most of the
When the pressure came on, like most sides they resorted a
bit to type. That was only natural when teams felt more
pressure and looked to use patterns which were ingrained.
"I think they will try and run rather than looking to keep
the score down," Foster added.
Italy had very compact lineout and scrum formations and knew
how to defend, now they were looking to add more to their
Experienced All Black Ali Williams will find his core skills
strongly tested by Italy as he looks to return to test rugby
after the mid-year knee operation which slowed his latest
He was in a boisterous mood yesterday as he eyed his return
at a stadium now called the Stadio Flaminio, where Murray
Halberg and Peter Snell claimed double Olympic gold in 1960.
It was a chance to see if the alternate All Blacks could
raise the mark and challenge the teammates who had opened so
well against Scotland.
"It's no secret what the jersey means to me," Williams said.
It will also be a special moment for Kieran Read who will
lead the side though Williams did not expect him to change
his game or indeed need to.
Like Richie McCaw, Read would not say too much. They were
similar players but very different people, Williams said as
he left the media chuckling as he mentioned, "one's got a
steady relationship and one doesn't."
Neither of the backup midfield pair, Tamati Ellison and Ben
Smith will be available this weekend and it is unclear
whether they will be fit again on tour.
Ellison has ligament damage in a toe while Smith has a small
fracture in his cheek with the medical staff saying they will
have a better idea of their playing chances next week.
Adam Thomson's tour fate will be decided when he fronts a
judicial hearing tomorrow (Thursday am) at Heathrow Airport
into his reckless bootwork on Scottish flanker Alasdair