Italy v France, Six Nations, Stadio Olimpico
Favaro braced for France backlash
ESPN Staff
February 2, 2013
Italy flanker Simone Favaro takes on New Zealand wing Hosea Gear. Italy v New Zealand, Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy, November 17, 2012
Simone Favaro will be his usual combative self against France © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Simone Favaro
Tournaments/Tours: Six Nations
Teams: France | Ireland

Italy flanker Simone Favaro is expecting "war" when Italy start their Six Nations campaign against France on Sunday.

The Zebre back-rower has been handed the open-side berth for the match at Rome's Stadio Olimpico following Robert Barbieri's injury and he expects France to try to start with a declaration of intent that will help banish memories of their 22-21 loss from the 2011 Six Nations, the last time France travelled to Rome.

"They will arrive in a furious mood and will give 100 per cent, so we will have to give 110 and try and absorb everything they throw at us for 80 minutes," he said. "They will want to destroy us, but we are ready for war because we want to experience that joy again. I wasn't there and I was envious not to be on the field that day."

Favaro will pack down in the back-row alongside captain Sergio Parisse and Alessandro Zanni. Both were involved in the defeat of France, as well as the 37-17 win over Scotland at Murrayfield - their only away victory in the Six Nations. Since then the only other wins the Azzurri have enjoyed in the tournament, apart from victory over France, have come at home to Scotland.

Now with a win over Tonga and impressive performances against New Zealand and Australia in the autumn internationals under their belts, there is a new belief that they can play a more exciting brand of rugby. Even so with France coming off the back of three wins in November themselves, Favaro accepts that victory will not be easy.

"This type of match is fundamental for our growth if we want to play consistently at the highest level," he said. "We will see two teams who have a similar philosophy. Their style allows players to play with freedom and we know that they are at their best with that style."

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