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Ghiraldini calls for Azzurri belief

Leonardo Ghiraldini has urged Italy to "keep believing" when they tackle RBS 6 Nations title contenders Wales on Saturday without their captain and world-class number eight Sergio Parisse.

A foot injury suffered during last weekend's 29-0 home defeat against France has sidelined Parisse from Italy's final game of the Six Nations campaign.

Leicester hooker Ghiraldini will take the armband at Stadio Olimpico in his absence, with Italy looking for a victory that would shred this season's Six Nations form-book.

"S ergio is one of the best number eights in the world," Ghiraldini said at a press conference in Rome on Friday.

"Of course he's a big loss for us, but at the same time, it's an opportunity for others to take responsibility.

"Sergio could play in every national team in the world, but we have to keep believing.

"There will be moments of pressure, but we must keep our mentality for every second of the game. We can still play a good game without Sergio."

Italy have scored just three points in their two Six Nations home games this season, while they were thumped 52-11 by England at the Stadio Olimpico in their final match of the tournament last term.

And while they can reflect on beating Scotland at Murrayfield this time around, the campaign has proved to be another mixed bag of results.

" We have to show we are a better team than the one that turned up against France," Ghiraldini added.

"Our win in Scotland came after two bad defeats, and we have shown that we are capable of overcoming negative moments.

"I don't know what Wales expect, but we want to show our pride. We are not thinking about denying them the title; we are focused on our own match.

" Everything starts from our first phase, and our scrum has to be at its best. We want to be accurate in every aspect of the game.

"Our discipline in kicking wasn't good last week. We made it too easy for France. Wales can keep the ball for a long time and defend for more than 30 phases, as we saw against Ireland."


From Belfast Telegraph