Big on being a ball carrier at number eight . . . Vunisa. Photo: World Rugby
Fiji-born number eight happy to replace Sergio Parisse in the Azzurri’s opening match against France on Saturday
GUILDFORD – Italy’s Samuela Vunisa is remarkably laid back for someone who has to replace a national hero.
The Fiji-born number eight is the man who has been selected to take the place of injured captain Sergio Parisse in the Azzurri’s opening match against France at Twickenham on Saturday.
Parisse is yet to recover after having a haematoma drained from his calf muscle and Italy coach Jacques Brunel gave the 27-year-old Vunisa the nod, with hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini chosen to lead the team out as captain.
Italian fullback Andrea Masi is tackled by a Samoan player. Photo: Planet Rugby
Italy came from 3-10 down at half-time to defeat Samoa 24-13 in their November Test at Stadio Cino e Lilio Del Duca in Ascoli.
New Zealand-born fly-half Kelly Haimona kicked 14 points to inspire Italy to the hard-fought win as they ended a nine-match string of defeats.
Former English skipper Steve Borthwick is new Japan lineout coach. Photo: Planet Rugby
Japan coach Eddie Jones is eager for his side to peak at next year’s World Cup after an impressive nine-game winning streak for the national team.
Victories over Canada and the USA have made for an outstanding month for the Brave Blossoms, with this weekend seeing them face Italy in Tokyo.
And Jones believes it will be a difficult task to make it ten in a row when they face the Azzurri, a side they have struggled against in the past.
“It will be our toughest game of the year,” the former Australia head coach told reporters.
“Japan’s record against Italy is not impressive so it’s a fantastic opportunity to change Japanese rugby history.”
Japan’s recent success risks becoming a double-edged sword for Jones, however, as World Cup rivals devote more time to analysing how to avoid being upset in England next year.
“Of course we really want to peak at the World Cup,” said Jones.
Flyhalf Tusi Pisi kicked five penalties for Manu Samoa. Photo: Planet Rugby
Samoa fly-half Tusi Pisi kicked five penalties in his side’s 15-0 victory over struggling Italy at Apia Park on Saturday.
The result follows the Azzurri’s loss to Fiji last weekend to round off a poor year in Test rugby so far.
Pisi made them pay with five successful kicks as Samoa responded from their surprising 18-18 draw with Tonga last weekend.
Flyhalf Tusi Pisi will be the key player for Manu Samoa today in Apia. Photo: Planet Rugby
After rusty performances last weekend, both Samoa and Italy will be out to prove a point when they do battle in Apia today.
Tonga shocked Samoa in Apia, when they claimed a late 18-18 draw, and Italy’s three-Test tour got off to a poor start when they suffered a 25-14 defeat to Fiji in Suva.
Apart from that draw against Tonga, Samoa – albeit without several of their overseas-based players – also suffered a 33-14 defeat to Japan in Tokyo last month.
They also faced Tonga with several first-choice players on the bench but have recalled world class Northampton Saints duo Kahn Fotuali’i and George Pisi to their back-line while London Irish bruiser Ofisa Treviranus Saracens prop James Johnston and Clermont hooker Ti’i Paulo also return to the run-on side to bolster the pack.