Keo.co.za brings you the latest from the Six Nations.
Lievremont demands more flair
France coach Marc Lievremont wants his charges to express themselves in the opening Six Nations game against Ireland.
“Our ambition is to play our own game and win. I told the players ‘free yourselves and show your potential’,” he said.
The fixture at Croke Park is the biggest of the weekend, and an away victory against one of the strongest contenders will stand France in good stead to eventually win the competition.
“This Ireland team inspire in us the greatest respect,” Lievremont said. “Their organisation, the quality of their players, their coherence, the context of Croke Park and the growing expectations of the Irish supporters are factors which will make that game particularly difficult.”
While he wants his players to show some flair, the France coach also wants them to show some steel under pressure.
“If you look at last year’s important games, against England, Ireland and Wales in the Six Nations and against Australia in November, we suffered after an hour of play and when we cracked we did crack in all sectors,” he said.
“We did our best to make the players aware of that and asked them to keep composure and concentration until the final whistle, whatever the score.”
Bergamasco shifts to No 9
Italy coach Nick Mallett has moved Stade Francais flanker Mauro Bergamasco to scrumhalf for the clash with England.
Halfback has been a problem area for Mallett and injuries to Pablo Canavosio, Simone Piccone and Pietro Travagli necessitated the move.
“I didn’t have much choice,” said Mallett. “I wanted to play Canavosio but he is injured as are Piccone and Travagli.
“Mauro is not ideal because he has never played before in this role but this is my choice and I take full responsibility.
“The game at Twickenham will be very difficult. He will be under a lot of pressure. But I have gone with him because he is a player who has experience – he has earned 69 caps for Italy already.
“I believe Bergamasco will make more tackles on Saturday than had he played on the back row.”
Leicester prop Martin Castrogiovanni returns from over a year out of the national side due to injury.
Italy – 15 Andrea Masi (Biarritz), 14 Kane Robertson (Viadana), 13 Gonzalo Canale (Clermont-Auvergne), 12 Gonzalo Garcia (Calvisano), 11 Mirco Bergamasco (Stade Francais); 10 Andrea Marcato (Benetton Treviso), 9 Mauro Bergamasco (Stade Francais); 1 Fabian Ongaro (Saracens), 2 Simone Perugini (Stade Toulousain), 3 Martin Castrogiovanni (Leicester), 4 Santiago Dellape (Toulon), 5 Marco Bortolami (Gloucester), 6 Josh Sole (Viadana), 7 Andrea Zanni (Calvisano), 8Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais, c).
Subs: 16 Carlo Festuccia (Racing Metro Paris), 17 Carlos Nieto (Gloucester), 18 Tomasso Reato (Femi Rovigo), 19 Jean-Francois Montauriol (Venezia), 20 Guilio Toniolatti (Capitolina), 21 Luke McLean (Calvisano), 22 Matteo Pratichetti (Calvisano).
Paterson gets the axe
Record points-scorer Chris Paterson has been dropped from Scotland’s team to play Wales.
Hugo Southwell will start at fullback in Paterson’s place, while tighthead Euan Murray’s injury means Geoff Cross will start.
Flyhalf Phil Godman will take the goal-kicking duties in Paterson’s absence.
Coach Frank Hadden is backing his team’s chances as he continues to laud the depth in the squad, which he rates as their best in a long while.
“I have been referring recently to the growing strength in depth of the Scotland squad,” said Hadden.
“The quality of the side we’ve chosen to play Wales is an excellent example of that.”
Scotland – 15 Hugo Southwell (Edinburgh); 14 Simon Webster (Edinburgh), 13 Ben Cairns (Edinburgh), 12 Graeme Morrison (Glasgow), 11 Sean Lamont (Northampton); 10 Phil Godman (Edinburgh), 9 Mike Blair (Edinburgh); 1 Allan Jacobsen (Edinburgh), 2 Ross Ford (Edinburgh), 3 Geoff Cross (Edinburgh), 4 Jason White (Sale), 5 Jim Hamilton (Edinburgh), 6 Ally Hogg (Edinburgh), 7 Simon Taylor (Stade Francais), 8 John Barclay (Glasgow).
Subs: 16 Dougie Hall (Glasgow Warriors), 17 Alasdair Dickinson (Gloucester), 18 Kelly Brown (Glasgow Warriors), 19 Scott Gray (Northampton Saints), 20 Chris Cusiter (Perpignan), 21 Chris Paterson (Edinburgh), 22Max Evans (Glasgow Warriors).