Italy v Wales, February 23, 2013
Edwards 'not surprised' by Parisse red
February 18, 2013
Italy could be without Sergio Parisse for Saturday's clash with Wales © Getty Images
Edwards claims that it is "no surprise" that the talismanic No.8 was dismissed for back-chatting to a referee. The Stade Francais star was sent-off after he allegedly insulted referee Laurent Cardona during a Top 14 game against Bordeaux-Begles on Saturday. The Italian has denied any wrong doing but if he is found guilty of the offence, then he could face a ban of around six weeks.
Parisse was included in Italy's 31-man squad for their match with Wales, but Azzurri boss Jacques Brunel has also drafted in veteran back-rower Mauro Bergamasco as back-up if Parisse is hit with a suspension. And while a possible suspension would come as a massive blow for Italy, Edwards claims that the Italian No.8 has riled officials in the past.
"It's not a surprise to me that he has been done for speaking to the referee. It's nothing he hasn't done before," Edwards said. "Last Friday we were watching the tape back from our match against Italy last year, and he came out with profanities in the referee's ear-shot and saying what he was going to do to one of our players, so it is no surprise to me that he has been done for back-chatting to the referee.
"On that footage you can clearly hear what is said in the referee's microphone. He was saying what damage he was going to do to one of our players."
Edwards, though, also accepts that Parisse's potential loss is a major setback for the Italians, who opened their Six Nations campaign with victory over France earlier this month before suffering a heavy defeat against Scotland at Murrayfield.
"He is obviously a player who is rated very highly throughout the world," Edwards added. "Parisse is a very creative player from scrums with his inside balls that cause a problem for defences, and he is a very strong scrummager, particularly in his own 22. He is good in the air and excellent at off-loading, so I'm pretty sure his coach will be hoping he gets off his ban.
"I don't know who will play number eight for Italy on Saturday, but I am sure they won't play with 14 players if he is out. They will have somebody perfectly competent to replace him."
Italy team manager Luigi Troiani admitted on Monday that the Azzurri had no option but to wait and see what unfolded with their inspirational captain. "We've seen the pictures and talked to the player," Troiani said. "At present, we can only wait for the evolution of events. Until further notice, we cannot consider that the player is not available for Saturday's game.
"That said, we cannot prepare for a tough game like this thinking about the situation of an individual, although the absence of Parisse would be very heavy. I think, first of all, it is our duty to stay focussed and work during the week to take the field on Saturday with the aim of beating Wales."
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