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Ireland v Italy Six Nations: We are praying for another miracle, admits Parisse

By Nick Purewal

Sergio Parisse admits Italy will need another "miracle" victory rivalling November's South Africa triumph to topple Ireland in Rome this afternoon.

Italy edged out the Springboks 20-18 in the autumn, with new boss Conor O'Shea registering a landmark result to kick-start his reign with the Azzurri.

The Italians slumped to a 33-7 home loss to Wales to open their RBS Six Nations campaign last weekend, however, and now Parisse expects an even tougher challenge from Ireland.

Parisse has backed former Ireland full-back O'Shea to transform Italy's PRO12 outfits to boost the Azzurri's long-term development - but admitted for now they must scavenge off every possible scrap.

"Beating South Africa with the system we have in the country at the moment was a miracle, but it was possible because of the commitment of the players and the staff who believe in us," said Parisse. "Personally I think Ireland are better than Wales, so it's going to be extremely difficult.

"Conor's most important challenge is to change our mentality.

"Zebre and Treviso play in a very negative environment, losing often. The attitude changes when you have criticism every week and no wins. It's human nature that you start believing you're not good enough.

"It's difficult to expect a winning mentality from those players but Conor is so positive.

"Ireland are the only team in the Six Nations extremely adaptable depending on the opponent.

"Joe Schmidt is a clever coach and always finding ways to establish good attacking platforms depending on the opponent."

Parisse insisted he is not about to seek retirement just when he considers Italy boast a coach worthy of his own talents.

"I find in Conor a coach who has the same vision as me," said Parisse. "While I'm fit and my performances are good and I'm mentally fresh though, I definitely want to keep playing."

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