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Parisse will be huge miss when he calls it a day


Sergio Parisse

Sergio Parisse

©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Sergio Parisse

It feels like Sergio Parisse has been Italy's talisman forever at this point.

I remember back in 2014 when he pulled out late in the week of their visit to Dublin in the Six Nations and it genuinely changed our preparation. We'd devoted a lot of time to how we'd stop him, it was something we'd really honed in on.

When he then wasn't playing, no disrespect to the guys coming in, it was a sigh of relief that we didn't have to deal with him. He really has been that important to Italy down the years.

Having missed him that time around, the only time I would have played against him was the World Cup in 2015, but watching him down the years, he's an incredible player.

It seems this season may be the end of the road for him and Italy if what's been said in the build-up is anything to go by. It's been incredible to see him do what he has for so long and, if this does prove to be his last Six Nations, Italy will miss him.

The great man aside, this is an interesting week for Ireland.

When you look at the provinces last weekend, it seems like Joe Schmidt may be planning to go near to full-strength.

Obviously he feels like he has to get those key men back in a rhythm. Ireland should definitely win even if it's what happens when Wales host England that will be providing the weekend's main talking point.

Belfast Telegraph