France v Italy
How do you think France v Italy will pan out?
I believe that the French will take Italy to pieces in the last ten minutes of this game. Look out for the Italian Scrum-half Edouardo Gori, he’s a real handful who reminds me of a young Augustin Pichot for Argentina. He has the whole package; pace, a sweet pass, an eye for the gap and an uncanny ability under the high ball for a 9. Sergio Parisse, probably the most complete forward in world rugby is their talisman and will get Italy on the front foot even when they are going backwards but this French pack will ultimately prove too big and too tough for these Italian pretenders.
Ones to watch?
You have no choice but to admire Sergio Parisse, whether he’s playing for Italy or Stade Français, the guy is sheer class and that will be on show for the duration of the game tomorrow. As for France, Bézy is the guy who will make them tick tomorrow. He’s probably more like Yachvilli than Parra as a kicking 9 but he has strength and pace that defy his physical attributes. Gori will pose him problems at the base but as soon as the French pack start rolling forward and gain a little confidence, Bézy will take control and drill out the victory for France.
Jedrasiak is a monster for Clermont week in, week out; you’ll see him clearing out rucks and smashing Italian attackers all day.
Vakatawa (above) is the risky selection and one, I think, is destined to fail. Plucking a guy straight from the sevens circuit may have worked for the coaches of Christian Cullen and Jonah Lomu but this is the Six Nations where nobody has missed a tackle since Will Carling slipped off Sella and 3 points can sometimes feel like more than 5.
What is your scoreline prediction for the match?
45-12 to France. Italy do not have a leg to stand on.
The Six Nations is no longer about surprises, unless you’re wondering whether or not Italy will win a game. I expect Italy to fight hard, as they always do but the weight of numbers is in favour of France and there is just too much class in this French outfit to even hope for an Azzuri upset.