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Parisse urges Italy to take risks

Italy skipper Sergio Parisse has vowed the Azzurri will not abandon their attacking approach and says his team must "take risks" in this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship.

The Italians have a poor record since the Six Nations was launched in 2000, winning just 11 of their 70 games, but last year hinted at better things to come after they beat Ireland and France.

They currently have injuries to a number of key players, including backs Andrea Masi and Gonzalo Canale, but number eight Parisse has delivered a positive assessment ahead of Italy facing opening Six Nations opponents Wales in Cardiff on February 1.

"Back in 2008 the questions were all about us having a good scrum, but I think we are more complete as a team now," Stade Francais forward Parisse said.

"We can play in our backs and play a good kind of rugby, it's not just dominating the scrum.

"We beat Ireland and France last season and our objective is to continue this way. We lost it slightly in games in June and November and we've got to bring that back now.

"We've got to stick to that attacking style, we've got to go at it, and there are some risks you've just got to take, rather than just kicking ball away and defending the line."

Italy coach Jacques Brunel accepts that injuries have left a mark, and he admits it will be a challenge without influential performers such as Masi and Canale, who are set to miss the whole tournament.

It will, though, give an opportunity in some areas for Italy's younger players, and Brunel said: "We must be ambitious, we won twice last year against Ireland and France.

"It's a problem when you take out key men like Canale and Masi, because in terms of depth we do not have a pool of 40 or 50 players to choose from.

"Their experience is vital, but what we must do now is usher in young players as quickly as possible.

"We have to integrate them very quickly to the level of competition - the speed of the game, the choices, the decisions, the reactions and how you can adapt to what happens.

"What we need to do is trust them, show them they can do what they need to do.

"We have to integrate them quickly and that's where the older and more experienced players come in."

After a testing trip to Cardiff, Italy then tackle France before hosting Scotland, visiting Ireland and closing their campaign at home against England on March 15.


From Belfast Telegraph