Australia: Tom Wright says Wallabies wary of Italy threat

Tom Wright Australia training 2022 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy
Tom Wright Australia training 2022 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy

Despite winning all 18 of their previous Tests against Italy, the Wallabies are not underestimating the Azzurri ahead of their Autumn Nations Series clash in Florence.

After starting their end-of-year tour with a nail-biting 16-15 victory over Scotland, Australia suffered a narrow 30-29 defeat to France in Paris last weekend.

The Wallabies have struggled on their end-of-year tours in recent years as they have not won more than one Test while visiting Europe since 2016.

Signs of improvement

They have also not won back-to-back Tests since a five-match winning streak in 2021. They have shown signs of improvement, however, but although they will be favourites to beat Italy, who they last faced in 2018, wing Tom Wright said it’s important that they approach the fixture in the same way to their clash against Les Bleus.

“The main messaging is around that we respect Italy and keep out the outside noise… around what could be perceived as an easy game for us on this tour, or the easiest,” Wright told reporters.

“It’s about making sure that we as a squad front up this week – it’s very easy to get up when you’re playing France or Ireland, the top two teams in the world, so we need to make sure we put the same emphasis on playing well and preparing the same way against Italy.”

Australia head coach Dave Rennie will name his team on Thursday and many Wallabies supporters are keen to see young full-back Jock Campbell, who made his first Test start against France, get another start.

Wright admitted the Wallabies full-back position was a “merry-go-round” with no player able to nail down the spot ahead of the Rugby World Cup in France in 2023.

He believes Campbell, who made his Test debut against Scotland at the age of 27, brought a lot of great qualities to the full-back role.

“It’s been well-publicised around how underrated he’s (Campbell) been and he’s waited for his opportunity for a really long time,” Wright said.

“To see him front up on one of biggest stages in the world, he didn’t shy away from the occasion, executing our game plan.

“There’s been a merry-go-round of guys go through there (fullback), me included, and Jock is cool, calm and collected and extremely well liked by the group.

“You saw in his performance, not a lot rattles him.”

Campbell and Wright both missed tackles on the Les Bleus flyer Damien Penaud as he crossed for the match-winning try in Paris in that game’s closing stages.

Wright said he took responsibility for the defensive error while there were plenty of positives to take from the Paris match.

Owning up

“It sucked for the group, sucked for me and Jock but I’ve just got to own that moment,” he said.

“The team review, we didn’t just look at the last try and think how shit was that game, we looked at the first 75-odd minutes and what we did really well.

“We know Italy are going to be no slouch this weekend, especially at home and it’s a new environment for a lot of guys.

“It’s certainly been a focus point for us, making sure that we show up, especially coming after a performance that we were proud of.”

READ MORE: WATCH: Damian Penaud wins it for France with a magnificent late try against the Wallabies

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