Ben Mowen took over the Australian captaincy last weekend. Image courtesy of dailytelegraph.com.au
Australia can complain until the cows come home about poor officiating last week, but in the end a 20-13 loss to England at Twickenham will go down in the history books. It was the hosts’ first start since March so a battle-hardened Wallabies side should have been able to account for one of their great rivals. Coach Ewen McKenzie continued to ring the changes last week with James Horwill stripped of the captaincy, and the green and gold still looks like a team in the middle of a big transition period.
The Wallabies continue their European Spring Tour this weekend visiting Turin for the first time for a clash with Italy . The Azzurri put in some promising performances in the Six Nations at the start of this year. They opened with a 23-18 comeback win over France in Rome and ended it with a 22-15 victory over Ireland. As usual they were cannon fodder away from home and it was no surprise to see Jacques Brunel’s team struggle in a quadrangular tournament in South Africa mid-year. They were thrashed by the Springboks and Samoa and went down to Scotland by a single point .
After missing the England loss with a knee injury, lock Rob Simmons comes back in to the starting line-up. He is a direct swap for blindside flanker Scott Fardy, though, after the Brumbies forward copped a head knock last weekend. It is the only change to the starting XV with Ben Mowen retaining the captaincy. Italy has veteran hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini amongst its replacements due to a shoulder problem, while abrasive prop Martin Castrogiovanni is feeling the effects of a virus.
Australia hasn’t lost to Italy in 15 Test matches, although twice the Italians have come within three points , and one of those occasions was last year’s encounter in Florence. Australia jumped out to a 22-3 lead at half-time but the Wallabies only just managed to withstand an Azzurri onslaught in the second stanza, holding on for a 22-19 victory.
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