Preview: Wallabies v Italy - Green and Gold Rugby

Preview: Wallabies v Italy

Preview: Wallabies v Italy

Italy will travel to Brisbane this Saturday for the third and final mid season test for Australia. Can Australia restore some pride in the jersey or is another upset on the cards.

Over the last two weekends Australia beat Fiji in Melbourne before losing to Scotland in Sydney. Over the same period Italy have lost to Scotland in Singapore and then Fiji in Suva.

Michael Cheika has shuffled the squad with Rob Horne replacing Tevita Kuridrani at outside centre. Jack Dempsey is the only debutante, earning a bench place at Richard Hardwick’s expense. Lopeti Timani steps into the number eight jersey as Scott Higginbotham is dropped from the twenty three.

Jack Dempsey

Dynamic backrower Jack Dempsey will debut from the bench

Italy coach Conor O’Shea has made three changes to last weekend’s team. Scrumhalf Tito Tebaldi is starting for the first time in three years, backrower Andries Van Schalkwyk moves to no. 8 and Marco Lazzaroni will earn his first cap via the bench.


Italian fly half Tomasso Allan getting grabbed by Sia Faingaa in 2011.


While the Wallabies were far from impressive against the Scots, Italy should pose an easier task. In saying that if it’s close late in the game Australia’s mental fragility may well be exposed.

I’m still going with the Wallabies by 16.


1. Scott Sio (31 Tests)
2. Stephen Moore (c) (119 Tests)
3. Allan Alaalatoa (11 Tests)
4. Rory Arnold (11 Tests)
5. Adam Coleman (11 Tests)
6. Ned Hanigan (2 Tests)
7. Michael Hooper (67 Tests)
8. Lopeti Timani (6 Tests)
9. Will Genia (77 Tests)
10. Bernard Foley (44 Tests)
11. Sefa Naivalu (6 Tests)
12. Karmichael Hunt (2 Tests)
13. Rob Horne (33 Tests)
14. Dane Haylett-Petty (16 Tests)
15. Israel Folau (54 Tests)


16. Tatafu Polota-Nau (70 Tests)
17. Toby Smith (5 Tests)
18. Sekope Kepu (79 Tests)
19. Sam Carter (15 Tests)
20. Jack Dempsey*
21. Joe Powell (1 Test)
22. Quade Cooper (69 Tests)
23. Reece Hodge (12 Tests)

* Indicates uncapped players


1. Andrea Lovotti
2. Luca Bigi
3. Simone Ferrari
4. Marco Fuser
5. Dean Budd
6. Francesco Minto
7. Maxime Mbanda
8. Dries van Schalkwyk
9. Tito Tebaldi
10. Tommaso Allan
11. Giovanbattista Venditti
12. Tommaso Boni
13. Michele Campagnaro
14. Angelo Esposito
15. Edoardo Padovani


16. Ornel Gega
17. Federico Zani
18. Pietro Ceccarelli
19. Marco Lazzaroni*
20. Braam Steyn
21. Edoardo Gori
22. Carlo Canna
23. Tommaso Benvenuti


Venue: Suncorp Stadium Brisbane

Kickoff:  3pm local time, Saturday 24th June.

Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistants: Wayne Barnes (England), Brendon Pickerill (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)

  • Patrick

    Um, Rob Horne for Kuridrani is the change we’ve been asking for?

    • Pedro

      At least two people support it.

      • Chinese Dave

        What? has one of his parents died or are you implying that he doesn’t support his own call up?

        • Pedro

          at least…

        • Chinese Dave

          I thought the “at most” was implied.

  • Braveheart81

    Ermahgerd Rob Horne.

    • Bobas

      just give him a chance

      • HomerJ

        It says above he has had 33 chances.

        • Bobas

          yeah but not this week

        • Chinese Dave

          The Shaun Marsh of Rugby

  • Bobas

    Rich and Hard-Thick should feel hard done by.
    I really liked his contributions in his first two tests.

    • EngineRoom

      HE was rally good, and Cheika will not forget him. He isn’t completly out of the picture. It is just one game and he’s already proven that he is a good player. Cheika wants to see Dempsey play internationally because he went on the spring tour last year and sees a future with him, just like Hardwick

  • Bobas

    5. Dean Budd

    Budd is Itallian for Mumm

  • Mitch T Gray

    Horne will probably go off in the first 15 with an Elbow or Shoulder injury.

  • Missing Link

    I doubt the Italian tight head Simone Ferrari runs like his namesake

    • Xaviera

      Simone, from Norths?

      • EngineRoom

        Speaking of which. Great player (Norths Simone) much better than the dud Horwitz

  • Brumby Runner

    It is reported that Cheika has an eye on the ABs tests with his selections for this match. Bullshit I say. Why hasn’t Latu been given a run when both Moore and TPN are ageing and haven;t been in good form this year?

    In what alternative universe is Rob Horne seen as a potential player for the ABs tests?

    Why would a hard worker like Hardwick be overlooked for a player who hasn’t even pulled the boots on for his SR side this year in any circumstances?

    Why would a dynamic player like Higgers be dropped for a tyro with little impact against second tier sides when the next set of test matches is against the ABs?

    Cheika has lost the plot big time. While I don’t want to see the Wallabies lose to another side below them in the rankings, they really should be aiming at a substantial win over Italy – at least by 25 – 30 points. I will be more than pleasantly surprised if that happens.

    • Bobas

      When I think about the combos analysis Ben Darwin was talking about on the pod.
      Positions: 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14, 15
      Seem to be the only certainties for the RC.

      Maybe Larkham asked to keep Kuri fresh for a finals tilt. Maybe Cheik wants 13 unstable so Kerevi slots in easier. Can’t know, I wish they just put our best players out every week.

      • Adrian

        Good points

      • Who?

        Best players every week, or real investments for the future. Like giving Powell some real minutes, because I’m very worried about him going into a Bledisloe with 10 minutes of Test Rugby under his belt. We’re not going to stay within 30 points of the ABs when we can’t trust our bench players and ask all our starters – especially in key positions like 9 – to play the 80.

    • Pedro

      I heard unofficially that Latu was injured, if not it’s puzzling that he’s not in the mix.

  • MungBean

    Dempsey is on the bench.

    Holy mother of god.

    That’s it.

    I’m done.

    Cheika and his merry band of Wallatahs can get stuffed.

  • Blah blah Rob Horne! something something Hannigan! Expletive coach…
    Italy? Yawn.

    • Pedro

      Move along…

    • Peter

      Last week’s problem was us having a bunch of guys out there with plenty of skills and talent, but no passion for the jersey. To me it looks like this selection’s aim is to address that. Whilst RH might not seem like a smart selection upon first analysis, we do actually need someone to throw themselves in there like they give a damn.

      • Who?

        You reckon they had skills and a game plan last week..? Really..? I saw a lot of dumb rugby out there… If all we need is more passion, we’ve got no hope.

        • Peter

          Totally agree. So in the mop up from last week, a selection change has been made to hopefully (and hope is all it is) address the pride/aggression/commitment problem. But yeah, unless the plan has been adjusted as well it won’t be of much help. There’s more than one dimension to a successful team out there.

        • Who?

          But were the guys swapped out really the problem..? Were they the ones making poor decisions..? Was our outside centre – who threw one poor pass but otherwise had a relatively solid game (he got a 5 on here – in a team that averaged 4.86 and included two ratings of 3, two of 7 and three of 4 – and one of those 3’s and two of the 4’s are starting tomorrow) – really a major problem..? Carter got a 5, too – was he really our problem? Or did we just have horrifically poor exit strategies (I shouldn’t be so kind as to make it plural, but I will), poor balance in the loose forwards (no natural on-ballers against a team with three), and some poor decision making? Sure, support play and kick chase are attitude based, but Cheika’s rarely had that significantly better team-wide than it was on the weekend. It’s only been when there’s been a player with a natural instinct for support (e.g. Beale/Hooper/Phipps) that it’s not been an issue.
          And if they’re skilled and talented, they really should be doing the basics a lot better. Like passing in front of the man. Looking the right direction (or at least both ways) for support.

        • Adrian

          The only real difference is more size/grunt via Arnold and Timani.

  • MungBean

    Remember that time some bloke called Jack Quigley thought he’d been listened to?

    • Bobas

      he demanded Horne in the team if he could become a roar author

  • MungBean

    Adrian, I get your point but it’s beyond a joke. If Cheika feels he can’t coach Scott Higginbotham to perform better at test level then Ned Hanigan and Jack Dempsey, then he should fall on his sword.

  • Bernie Chan

    Higgers ‘stiffed’ methinks, but Ledesma said he was part of a planned player rotation so they could see what others offer. BTW…how much rugby has Dempsey played recently? Hasn’t he missed a bunch of TAHs games? IMHO Higgers offers more than Hanigan an should be on the bench at least to cover #6 & #8. He is also a better lineout option….As far as Horne goes…why? He is not a development player and offers little that is better than Kuridrani ( his successful tackles rate is among the lowest of the #13s in Oz…) and he is going overseas…that is one of the reasons given for not picking Fardy…he is going overseas…?

    • Who?

      A real rotation might’ve been Dempsey to the bench, Hanigan AND Higgers out, Hardwick to start…
      I agree Higgers currently offers significantly more than Hanigan. But I’ve no issue with rotation.

  • Adrian

    Yea well…

    Australia by 25…

    Anything less is a sort of failure.

    I think that this will all be on the back of a power game driven by Timani, Coleman, Arnold, AAA, and Sio, and finished off by Kepu, TPN, Coleman and Dempsey.

    The ball is never going to go anywhere near Horne.
    Hooper, Folau, Naivalu and Hunt will do the touching down.

    I actually think this will happen!

    • MungBean

      call it a failure then

      • Adrian

        Absolutely, though not a disaster!

  • Who?

    Is anyone actually going..? I’ve been getting emails and sms’s all week from the ARU, get the impression tickets aren’t moving as well as they’d like… Hope Horne’s ready – Campagnaro’s shown some strength in the contact the last while, scored a great try against England.

    Edit: As a Wallabies supporter, I think that, if they want good attendance, they’d better have the Lions/ABs Test on the big screens afterwards….. I’m way more interested in it than anything happening in Brisbane this weekend. Not healthy for me to continue to be invested in the Wallabies…… Not good for my mental health to see such intellectual dwarfism continue.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Yep I am going. Have a corporate box. So at least the food and beer will meet my expectations even if the coaches fucked selections and shit game plan doesnt.

      • Who?

        Tell us what you really think! :-P
        Drunk rant coming up..? Just make sure it’s on Facebook…

        • Brisneyland Local

          Just got home from the game.
          Huge rant coming up on the game report whenever they post it.
          I am not on oversharebook.
          But I will be coming in off the extended long run up, because that effort licked the sweat off a dead mans balls!

        • Who?

          I think the guys are waiting for you to sober up before posting the match report! :-P

    • Simon

      I’m going. Quade told me to.

    • Fatflanker

      I’m reliably told QC will be fighting the Ultimate Armchair Warrior, Jack Squigley, at half-time. Jack has promised to restrict pre-fight drinks to a six-pack so could get interesting.

  • Who?

    First person I’ve found who admits that too many in NSW don’t care about their sporting teams and often support Qld in origin!!! I’ve said that was the case in my childhood in NSW many times, and normally everyone disbelieves me…

    • Adrian

      Definitely true.
      It’s a mixture of many reasons.

      One reason is that if your the biggest fish in the lake, and likely to stay that way, then you don’t give a fuck about the other fish. Maybe you care a bit about the lakes and fish in Tokyo, or Paris, or New York, but not Queensland,… wherever it is.

      Melbourne people feel rivalry with Sydney often, but Sydney people rarely think about Melbourne.

      Another reason is that there is plenty to do in Sydney, compared to Melbourne. There is even plenty to do in Qld compared to Melbourne.

      No wonder Melbournians have an almost religious addiction to AFL,… nothing else to do.

      If there is a better coach available, Sydney people wouldn’t care. We always thought McKenzie was a Victorian but apparently he’s a Queenslander, if you read these pages.

      We would probably welcome Higginbotham into the Waratahs, he has the same “please myself” attitude of most NSW sportsmen

      I could go on, … but wont

      • Who?

        I honestly thought the whole “Link’s a Queenslander” thing was more an anti-Reds thing from NSW than anything else. Which I also thought was weird, given he coached the Tahs for what, 5 years? 03-08? Also played for them. Coached at the Brums, too… Don’t know why a bloke who was as inter-franchise as it was possible to be found his support base so strongly split along partisan lines.
        But Cheika being appointed did look like a bunch of Tahs getting grumpy (Hooper came out and said during the 2014 June Tests, “We can’t wait to get back to the Tahs, it’s better there,” maybe not verbatim, but that was the impression it gave) and wanting the ‘outsider’ ousted.
        I think you’re right, though, that part of the issue for NSW is that they’re the big dog. They don’t notice the little dogs yapping, and don’t seem to care if they get bullied around a bit by the smaller dogs. They’re doing fine, life goes on, they don’t care. But that’s not great when you’re trying to build fan support for a team or a sport…

        • Adrian

          100% true, except that there is no anti-Reds thing in NSW with regard to McKenzie or anything else. The topic barely gets a mention.

          The thing that occasionally gets a mention is the disproportionately large number of Reds in Wallaby teams in relation to where the come in the comp each year. In NSW we don’t really mind though, we just say it’s because they always seem to have a shit house coach, so no worries.

          The Waratahs get accused of having too many Wallabies too, and it’s true, but if you do the sums you’ll see that the biggest leg-up goes to the Reds!

          We don’t mind, let’s have the best team

        • MungBean

          I think Link was disliked for two reasons
          1. He tried to impose the no-dickhead meritocracy that he successfully imposed at the Reds. This was impossible when bringing in certain players from a certain other franchise.
          2. His success at the Reds was an affront to the egos that boned him at the Tahs. He proved them wrong on so many levels that he was seen as a threat to the natural order of things. The cognitive dissonance caused them to lash out.

        • Chinese Dave

          Wow, you’re reading way way too much into this. Link was a fine coach, he played his own silly games too, just look at how he got the job. No one in NSW hates him, I actually remembered him fondly from his time as Tahs coach and was really excited to have him as Wallabies coach. Everyone I know in NSW was cheering the Reds on vs the Crusaders, I can honestly not think of any single person who even wishes the Reds ill, other than when they’re playing the Tahs. You QLDers are so wed to being the little aggrieved brother you don’t even notice your older brother actually likes you a bit.

        • Andy

          I’m a tahs man. But love the reds style of play. It’s just a pitty they haven’t got it together and been able to keep their players over the last few years. I’m sure it’ll come together in time though.

          Never quite understood the antagonism the other way around. I remember a lot of qldrs going for the Crusaders in the 2014 final. And this was all before the Mckenzie Paston thing. Must be an ingrained thing. Either way it’s not good for Oz rugby. Finger pointing and self interest aren’t going to get us out of the shit filled hole we are currently drowning in.

        • Adrian


        • Adrian

          Spot on Dave.
          Agree 100%

  • Jimmydubs

    That’d be fine if he was actually succeeding with said style of player..

  • Adrian

    Bookmakers say 27.5 start

    • Who?

      I thought before the Scotland game they got their odds wrong. I’m not a gambler, but it’s rare to see them so wrong.
      Not sure they’re not going to be wrong today, too…

      • Adrian

        Yes, they got Scotland wrong. They said 13.5.

        I said 9

        I’m saying 25 for this game

        • Who?

          With the history on Scotland, I wasn’t predicting a loss, but thought it could once again go within a try.
          I’m not sure we have the firepower to score 40 points today. And I don’t think we’ll hold Italy out. They put 17 points on England playing good Rugby (that wasn’t the ‘no ruck’ component of the game). Our defence isn’t as good as England’s. They almost drew Fiji, and Fiji held us fairly well, given their more challenging situation in dragging players in from across the globe. And with a few weeks eyeing this game, who knows what Conor O’Shea’s got up his sleeve? I hope we see something novel today.

        • Adrian

          Yes, from the little I’ve seen of the Italians, they can be creative against mainstream teams, and know how to counterattack. I’m guessing they know how to kick goals too. From memory they tend to have 2 or 3 good forwards. From memory, we used to have 2 or 3 counterattacking geniuses, … so memory won’t win games.

          I’m staking my limited optimism on a huge forwards effort up the guts, and an improved clearance strategy. I think Naivalu will back up breaks

    • Who?

      Good thing it’s the Wallabies, otherwise the bloodbath taken the last two weeks would hurt a lot more for the bookies. Because I’m sure betting on Wallabies games is only a fraction of what goes on the NRL and AFL each week. If they got Origin that far wrong, they’d be broke!

      • Adrian

        Apart from “specials” such as points start, 90% of betting (and odds) worked out by a computerized thing that divides number of dollars bet on a team by the number of betters. The betting company then takes % and winnings are paid out in proportion to the size of their bet.

        With the points start bit, Sportsbet wouldn’t have paid a cent on anyone betting that Australia would win, given the start was 27.5

        I’d say they knew exactly what they were doing, especially where most people were betting with their heart, not their head

        • Who?

          True true. And no surprise that people were betting with their hearts.
          Makes one wonder about how they get elections so right, then… Do we all know who’s going to win? Fascinating.

  • Who?

    I like Sharpie’s opening comments on 10. Saying that Quigley’s rant will help for one week, but we’ve got to go past playing on emotion…

  • Adrian

    Interesting game really, and probably good to watch if not supporting anyone.

    Extremely nervous and hesitant start.

    We didn’t use our big guys for a concerted power game. Did the Italian forwards look to big/tough?

    Our backline stood a fraction too flat. Last week they were a fraction too deep. The secret is to stand a metre deep, but run onto it, and take the ball flat.

    All of the players who were good, somehow also did something dumb…. a bit like Scotland game.

    Some players were pretty down on form, and there has to be some reconsideration of Loose Head props. I think we should consider switching AAA back to loose head, … though maybe we would only have Kepu at TH. Maybe more coaching for Sio. I think that Ledesma will be busy!

    Not nearly good enough to challenge All Blacks, but …. Beale will be added, and I’m almost certain Phipps, Fardy and Skelton will too, … irrespective of what Cheika previously said about players going OS.


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