State of the nation
The talk is of revolution, not evolution. With their domestic sides struggling, former Harlequins coach Conor O’shea has been tasked with revitalising the Azzurri in a root-and-branch overhaul. Sadly for Italy’s fans, any meaningful change could come in years, not weeks. Carlo Canna (left). Fêted by his coach O’shea as having as much talent as England pivot George Ford, Canna is a leggy, graceful No 10 with a varied passing game and accurate kicking game—he will be relishing putting Italian jetheeled backs Michele Campagnaro and Giovanbattista Venditti into gaps.
What to expect
Led by the gladiatorial Sergio Parisse, Italy will be looking to catch Wales cold on the opening weekend and then target a win over France or Scotland in Murrayfield. Achieve two wins and it will be back slaps all round; achieve three for the first time in their history and O’shea will be granted the freedom of Rome.