Parisse backs Allan to shine at 10

Date published: January 30 2014

Italy skipper Sergio Parisse believes that, in Tommaso Allan, his side have a man able finally to fill the troublesome fly-half slot.

Italy skipper Sergio Parisse believes that, in Tommaso Allan, his side have a man able finally to fill the troublesome fly-half slot.

Allan, who plays domestically for Perpignan in the Top 14, has turned out for Scotland U20s, and was widely expected to commit himself to Scott Johnson's side.

But the 20-year-old now looks set to win his chance to nail down a position the Azzurri have never really filled since the retirement of Diego Dominguez over a decade ago.

The likes of Ramiro Pez, Roland de Maringy, Craig Gower, Luke McLean and Andrea Masi have all featured in the pivot role since; with Kris Burton and Luciano Orquera contesting for the number ten jersey a year ago.

But Parisse is confident young Allan, whose fine form in France has seen James Hook switch to full-back, can excel at first-receiver.

“Number ten is a position a lot of players have played in over the last few years, but never played consistently more than three four games,” Parisse told Wales Online.

“It's a position where we are looking for a good young player to be able to play for a lot of years in that position. It's a crucial role for any team.

“We hope in Tomasso we have the quality to give good things to the team and to the other young players in the side. We have a couple of interesting young players, like him, who showed in November they have good qualities. They need all the support of the team.”

The skipper does admit, however, the tackling Wales in Cardiff in Round One will prove a tough test of his side's youngsters.

“They are a team good enough to beat anyone,” added the Stade Français stalwart.

“They have shown they are able to play good rugby and get great results.

“They are looking to win their third championship in a row, so they are going to want to win their first match.

“But it's important for us to go to Cardiff and fight for 80 minutes and give everything and play as we can play.

“We don't have the same strength as Wales, but when you play a rugby match sometimes the favourite wins, sometimes not the strongest team wins. Every single match is different.

“We want to show we can play good rugby, especially when we play away.”

With the Italians claiming two wins in 2013, against Ireland and France at Rome's Stadio Olimpico, Parisse wants them to enjoy more success on the road. Their only away win to date came in 2007 in Edinburgh as they overcame Scotland during a breathless encounter.

“We want to be difficult to play against when we go to Cardiff, Dublin or Paris, not just in Rome,” added Parisse.

“Teams say going to Rome is going to be a hard trip. The big challenge for us is to be as competitive when we play away as when we play at home. We must be able to win away. That is the challenge.

“We played a very good match against England at Twickenham in the last Six Nations. So that is the kind of performance we want to produce when we play away.

“We want to be competitive for 80 minutes, fighting to get a result.

“It's going to be difficult. The first two matches are definitely the most difficult matches of the tournament, in Cardiff and in Paris.

“The challenge of the team is to come to the level that we showed in the last Six Nations and be competitive, not only when we play in Rome, but even when we play away.”