Rugby: England prop talks up Timani

England's Toby Flood is tackled Australia's Sitaleki Timani. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
England's Toby Flood is tackled Australia's Sitaleki Timani. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne
Wallabies prop Benn Robinson praised giant second-rower Sitaleki Timani for his part in turning Australia's much-maligned scrum around on their European tour.

Robinson's comments come as the Wallabies prepare to face the respected Italian scrum in Florence on Saturday.

Australia's pack answered their northern hemisphere critics last weekend against England in a 20-14 win at Twickenham where the Wallabies' scrum was expected to be dominated.

But it was the Wallabies who did the dominating with the return of tighthead prop Ben Alexander and Timani, who both missed the 33-6 loss to France in Paris the week before.

Timani, who is 203cm and 120kg, terrorised England's ball carriers with some punishing hits and caused trouble on the edges with some strong carries.

For loosehead prop Robinson, however, it's the scrummaging of his Tongan-born NSW Waratahs' teammate that is a real strength in his game.

"He's certainly got plenty of punch in everything he does in attack and defence, and I'd hate to tackle him, but I think he's a great scrummager. He provides plenty of weight behind our tightheads," Robinson said.

The result of Timani driving behind Alexander helped the Wallabies No.3 totally outplay England loosehead Joe Marler, who was replaced early in the second half.

"Blokes were really ripping in and I thought our backrow scrummaged very well, our locks provided us with plenty of weight so we could put pressure back on them," he said.

"Sitaleki's combination with Nathan (Sharpe) really worked for us."

Timani is expecting the Italians to provide a tougher test for the Australian pack.

The Italian pack is led by 90-Test veteran tighthead Martin Castrogiovanni and did a good job in the 42-10 loss to the All Blacks last Saturday in Rome.

"The scrum will be a big focus again this weekend and we expect them to be very physical and tough ... at the scrum and the breakdown," Timani said.

"We really have to step up this week because Italy will be tougher."

The Italians trailed the All Blacks by just 13-7 at halftime and kept within 13 points of the world champions before New Zealand scored three tries in the final 13 minutes. Prior to that the Italians beat Tonga 28-23.