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Six Nations – Italy Must Impose Their Physical Game

Six Nations – Italy Must Impose Their Physical Game

Italy must impose their physical game on opponents if
they are to achieve their coach John Kirwan’s aim of winning at least two matches in the forthcoming Six Nations tournament,

Italy must impose their physical game on opponents if
they are to achieve their coach John Kirwan’s aim of winning at least two matches in the forthcoming Six Nations tournament. However the charismatic 39-year-old former All Black great added
that did
not mean using underhand tactics as has been the case in the past.

“We don’t plan on being overly physical,” he said.
“We trained in minus two degrees on Tuesday on rock hard
ground… we’re
just tough.

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“We have to keep building on making our tackles and try and
be the most
physical side in the tournament.
I have seen that put into more constructive fashion since I
took over and
it was proved by the fact our average penalty count against us went
down from
24 a match to eight during the World Cup.

“I won’t accept yellow cards and ill discipline. I just don’t
like cheating
which was the case with Italy in the past,” added Kirwan, who
took over from
compatriot Brad Johnstone in May 2002.

One person who certainly agrees with Kirwan’s prognosis that they
are the
most physical side is Clive Woodward, coach of their first
world champions England.

“I don’t see that playing Italy is any more difficult than
Australia, especially away from home. They are the most physical team
we will
play in the Six Nations,” said Woodward.

Kirwan, though, is looking for an improvement on last year’s Six
which saw them record one victory, at home against Wales.
“We want to win it because we shouldn’t think of it in any
other way.

“Realistically I want a home win and an away win and you know
I am talking
about England and France,” he added with a laugh.

Perhaps foremost in his trajectory for the away win which would be
first in the competition should be Wales, who caused him sleepless
nights when
they ended Italy’s chances of progressing to the last eight in the
World Cup.
“I didn’t sleep for two weeks after that defeat,” said
Kirwan, who won the
inaugural World Cup in 1987.

“I must have watched and rewatched that video several hundred
times as
coaches tend to do.
It was a chance to take Italy onto a different plane where
they could
dream of having as I saw last year 2,000 people turn up just for an
All Black
training session instead of the two we had at one, and one of those
people was
walking his dog.

“It really hurt that defeat because of the sacrifices the
players had put
into making it a successful tournament.”

Kirwan is confident a huge upswing in Italian fortunes is on the
“The guys are beginning to believe in themselves and it’s not
just because
we have been voted the best dressed team and captain Andrea Di Rossi
the best
looking player!

“It is because we have been retaining the ball for longer and
improving in
the rucks and dominating teams for longer periods of the game.
We just need to have the ability to kill them off.”

Kirwan, however, believes in a balanced mix of hard training and
off the pitch with the squad which is easier for him than it was for
as he is a fluent Italian speaker.

“Part of our philosophy is having a good balance.
We (the squad) had a bit of a crisis the other night as the
wine wasn’t
very good and when as professionals you aren’t allowed more than two
that is a real crisis, believe you me.”

Two victories in the Six Nations and Kirwan will be saying ‘crisis
crisis’ no matter how bad the wine is – and you wouldn’t bet against