Aussie wrap (Thurs) brings you the latest news from Australia’s year-end tour.

Mallett waves white flag

Former Springbok mentor and current Italy coach Nick Mallett believes his side stand no chance when they clash with the Wallabies this Saturday.

Even with coach Robbie Deans fielding a relatively understrength line-up filled with fringe and emerging players, Mallett claimed Australia would be too strong for his side over 80 minutes.

“The difference in standard is so enormous that they [Australia] could pick a Super 14 side from NSW and it would be very hard for Italy to win that game,” said Mallett.

“The quality of southern hemisphere rugby is so much quicker and so much more physical than anything that Italy has at club level.

“What will be a big shock to my players is the ability to play at pace. Normally, what they can do is compete for 40, 50 minutes and then we’ve just got to see how it goes in the last 20 or 30.”

“When you watch the Canterbury Crusaders or any Robbie Deans-coached teams, they never let up. They just keep going for 80 minutes.”

Mallett claimed that Italy would require “a hell of a lot of rain, a very wet field and a couple of interception tries” to stand any chance of victory.

“We’re playing at home so it’s a great opportunity for these guys. If we’re within 15 points, I think it will be a really good performance.”

Rookie prop shocked by call-up

Wallabies rookie Ben Alexander played just six games off the bench for the ACT Brumbies in this year’s Super 14, but Australian coach Robbie Deans has decided to throw the 23-year-old in the deep end against Italy.

The Italians have built up a reputation as a pretty decent scrumming unit and Saturday’s Test will be a huge step up for the former Australian U21 representative.

“I haven’t started a professional game yet, let alone a Test match,” a stunned Alexander said after learning of his call-up. “So it’s a humungous learning curve for me this weekend.”

“They’re [Italy] a very old school side and play a European style and love to slug it out – scrums, driving mauls. So if we’re going to win this game, it’s going to start with us forwards manning up and providing a decent platform for the backs.”

More to follow …