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Mauro criticism unfair

Mirco Bergamasco is sticking up for his brother and international team-mate Mauro in the face of criticism over his performance in the RBS 6 Nations defeat against England.

The Azzurri are preparing for the second match of their campaign, against Ireland on Sunday in Rome.

Flanker Mauro switched to scrum-half at Twickenham and had a difficult match last weekend.

But his brother said: "I feel the media reaction was exaggerated - all the blame was put on him.

"In fact, the fault was of all the team. The tries given away were not Mauro's fault.

"We have analysed the game, and the problem was not just one player but of the team that goes out on the pitch makes mistakes and loses.

With Italy coach Nick Mallett's experiment of playing Mauro at scrum-half backfiring, the Azzurri tactician - who was due to name his team tomorrow but will now wait till Thursday - is expected to make changes for their first home match of the campaign.

Mauro, meanwhile, continues to be supported close to home.

His brother added: "I know Mauro; I know his character - and it's normal that he was angry at the end of the game because he wanted to give 100%.

"But we all take responsibility for our defeat against England - and we are working to improve for Sunday's game."

Ulster lock Carlo Antonio del Fava and Calvisano scrum-half Paul Griffen have joined the team in training this week and could be included in Mallett's starting XV.

Looking ahead to Sunday, Mirco - who scored his 17th try in Azzurri colours last Saturday - believes Italy will show an improvement from their Six Nations opener.

"On Sunday we will see a different Italy - because we couldn't have played any worse than we did against England," he said.

"The important thing is that we maintain the right spirit in the group.

"We need to show more aggression on the pitch and not make the mistakes we made in the forwards against England. We have to continue to work hard and work a lot in attack.

"Fortunately, we have an extra-day to prepare for the game against Ireland. I am convinced that on Sunday we will see a different Italy."

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