Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Ross Moriarty ready for Sergio Parisse challenge in Rome

Ross Moriarty is relishing going head to head with one of world rugby's greatest players when Wales launch their RBS 6 Nations campaign on Sunday.

So integral is Italy captain and number eight Sergio Parisse to his team that Wales' preparations have included detailed, specific analysis of him.

They have even had what Moriarty describes as "a nominated Parisse" during training sessions, with Wales leaving no stone unturned in their attempt to minimise his impact on the Stadio Olimpico encounter.

While Parisse prepares to win his 122nd cap, Gloucester forward Moriarty makes a first Six Nations start, with his only previous experience of the tournament being as a substitute against the Azzurri in Cardiff last season.

"I played against him in the last Six Nations when I came off the bench, and it was a great experience to play against such a big name," Moriarty said.

"He has been around for quite a while, playing for Italy from a young age, and he has plenty of caps and experience.

"When I watched the Six Nations, he was always one of the stand-out players for Italy, and you cannot take away the fact he is a quality player. I look forward to the challenge.

"He is one of their main ball-players in terms of carrying and skills. He is a big man in their team, and we have done a lot of analysis on him.

"We've had a nominated Parisse in training. Whoever fits the mould."

Moriarty, whose father Paul and uncle Richard both played rugby for Wales, has settled impressively into a highly competitive back-row mix.

With the likes of Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau around, there is no guarantee that he will even start next week's Principality Stadium showdown against Six Nations title holders England if Faletau recovers in time from a knee injury.

But the 22-year-old will continue to go about his business, having carved a reputation for consistency during a 12-cap international career that has already seen him play against New Zealand three times, Australia twice and South Africa.

"I have had a few opportunities over the last season and a half, and I am enjoying myself," he added.

"I feel comfortable in the team and in the squad. There is a lot of competition in the back-row, and it is making me a better player.

"I played most of the autumn series this season at number eight. Toby (Faletau) came off the bench against South Africa and he went to eight and I went to six again, which I am happy to do.

"As long as I am on the pitch, it does not really bother me. Number eight makes me learn and develop new skills, and gives me another bow.

"Whether Toby is fit or not, I know I have to give my best, no matter what position I am playing in.

"His coming back to full fitness will be great for the team. Whether that means I am not going to play, I am not sure.

"Every game I play, I give everything I've got. You can never take your foot off the gas."

Wales, mindful of facing two Six Nations games in six days, have staged two 15-a-side practice matches - the first one was controlled by 2015 World Cup final referee Nigel Owens - to help ensure everything is in place to start the tournament strongly.

"It has been competitive," Moriarty said. "The games were intense.

"When it is full contact, it is full contact. We test each other and show what we can do, and it is really enjoyable. You know if you under-perform someone will be knocking on your door."


From Belfast Telegraph