Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby Six Nations

Six Nations: Sexton wary of physical Italy as Ireland look to cut out 'stupid' errors

By David Kelly

Jonathan Sexton believes Italy are a better side than that beaten 36-6 in the World Cup pool clash in Wellington last year.

Jacques Brunel's side have lost both their Six Nations encounters this season but, according to Irish assistant coach Mark Tainton, were a "chargedown away from beating England" last time out.

And, although Italy have never defeated Ireland since their ascension to the Six Nations in 2000, Sexton -- who has declared himself fit for the fray -- warned against complacency.

"Judging by their first two performances, it's exactly what you expect from Italian sides -- physical and dogged," said the out-half.

"Under the new coach, they're trying to play a little more. They still kick it a bit and we'll have to make good decisions when they do kick it.

"It's going to be tough. England had a really tough day at the office and even France only broke the deadlock after about 50 minutes or so.

"That World Cup match was tough. We scored at the start of the second half -- we took a good chance and didn't look back. We made them chase the game and when it opened up a bit more, that's when you can open up against them."

Craig Gilroy was called up to train with the Irish squad yesterday after Ulster team-mate Nevin Spence picked up an injury during Ulster's weekend defeat against Cardiff.

Shane Jennings, Dan Tuohy and Paddy Wallace also trained with the squad, who will be hoping to eradicate their error count after the disappointing defeat to Wales three weekends ago.

"There's a lot of areas Ireland need to improve upon," Sexton said.

"There's the breakdown, including the backs. At certain times in the game, we need to be a little more clever at what we're doing.

"We played the majority of the Welsh game off turnover ball. Any time we got the ball was after a prolonged period of them having it, and that's tough. I don't think we had too many set-pieces in the game.

"We're judging this Irish team after one game. We were a couple of minutes away from winning it. We do have a lot of things to work on but that's expected.

"It's coming together and we've only been together for one game.

"Hopefully we can implement the game-plan that's given to us by the coaches this week and don't make the same stupid mistakes we did against Wales which didn't allow us to come close to implementing the game-plan we wanted to that day."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph