Summer internationals: Italy and Ireland looking to bounce back

Charlie Peat
14 June 2018

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The second round of summer internationals are just days away and there’s work to do for both Ireland and Italy.

Grand Slam champions Ireland saw their winning streak come to a halt at the hands of Australia despite Munster-bound Joey Carbery kicking nine points.

Benetton duo Tiziano Pasquali and Abraham Steyn dotted down for Italy but they couldn’t prevent Japan prevailing 34-17.

Sexton returns

Jonathan Sexton has had a near perfect 2018 with Leinster and Ireland as he returns to Joe Schmidt’s starting line-up at fly-half.

Ireland head to Melbourne looking to avenge the 18-9 defeat and have made eight changes from the loss in Brisbane.

Leinster duo Cian Healy and Tadhg Furlong will pack down in the front row while club mate Dan Leavy is drafted in at openside flanker.

Munster stalwart Andrew Conway will replace Ulster’s Jacob Stockdale with Garry Ringrose partnering Robbie Henshaw.

The Six Nations winners will be going up against an unchanged Australian outfit in Melbourne and head coach Schmidt is hoping Ireland will find their groove.

He said: “We trained well this week. We were a little bit flat on Tuesday – some players needed a bit of time to find their feet a long way from home.

“I would like to think we have a bit more rhythm about us. In the NatWest 6 Nations I felt we built through it and I hope we can do that on this tour.

“We would have liked to have started from a higher pitch and built from that, but we are confident that Australia will be well prepared and improve their game. So we have to improve that little bit more.”

Double change for Azzurri

Italy head into their second summer international against Japan looking for a first win since November 2017, against Fiji.

Conor O’Shea’s starting line-up is packed with Benetton and Zebre representation with just three players coming from outside the two Guinness PRO14 outfits.

Benetton’s Jayden Hayward is one of two changes as he comes in for Mattia Bellini meaning Zebre’s Matteo Minozzi shifts to the wing. Jake Polledri comes in for Giovanni Licata in the only other change.

Elsewhere, prop Cherif Traore is set to make his test debut after being named amongst the replacements.

O’Shea knows just how vital it is for his side to finish off the summer on a winning note and hopes the Azzurri will fulfil their potential.

“We want to finish the tour and the season with a positive result and have worked hard this week with that objective,” said O’Shea.

“If we put in the performance that we have been preparing and that we are capable of, then we can be satisfied.

“The result is my responsibility, I ask the players and other coaches to produce a performance that matches our standard and quality.

“I really believe in this group of players, not just those who will start against Japan but all of them who have worked hard this week.”

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