Italy v Wales, Six Nations, February 23
Castro wants victory for Parisse
February 22, 2013
Martin Castrogiovanni (right) will be taking over from Sergio Parisse as Italy captain against Wales © Getty Images
It has been a difficult couple of weeks for Jacques Brunel's side who saw their championship hopes dealt a double blow with a 34-10 defeat to Scotland followed by a 30-day ban for their talisman who was found guilty of swearing at a referee while on Top 14 duty with his French club Stade Francais.
As a result, the 31-year-old Castrogiovanni will captain Italy for the third time and he is determined to do his usual skipper proud. "We are playing Wales, who are a fantastic team and will provide a big challenge," he said. "We are taking them on without our captain; without my friend Sergio and we will do all we can to win this match for him. He is a friend, a great captain, the heart of this team and for me it is an honour to stand in for him. I know that the team will help me and that everyone will give their all."
Italy have not beaten Wales in the Six Nations since their 23-20 win at the Stadio Flaminio in 2007, but Castrogiovanni is hopeful the 75,000 crowd at the Stadio Olimpico can help bring that run to an end and secure a second historic result after their 23-18 win over France at the start of the tournament.
"The Olimpico is our home, our stadium," he said. "We will play for our shirt, for our country, as we always do. I want it to be clear that coming here to the Olimpico will not be easy for anybody. I am convinced that if this Italy side shows its true quality as it did against France, we can compete with anyone."
Brunel's side was given a rude awakening at Murrayfield, where they were unable to hit their stride against a dogged and determined Scotland team that were licking their own wounds after an opening weekend loss to England. They were quick to swoop on any errors in attack and defence and Castrogiovanni is mindful that they need to avoid the same costly errors if they are to banish the memories of their capitulation.
"In Scotland we tried to play from everywhere, even when we should have kicked and we fell off to many tackles and failed to hold onto the ball," he said. "If we repeat these errors against Wales it will open up for their attack and they will score from them. We have to be more intelligent and make the correct decisions. The Wales we saw in Paris is the true Wales. They will arrive with confidence that they can hold onto the ball and reap the benefits of that."
Brunel is also confident his side can weather the loss of their inspirational captain. "We have to look at this game against Wales with ambition," Brunel said. "I think we can win it despite the absence of Parisse. There are lots of players who are very influential in the game. Sergio is undoubtedly one of them, but he isn't the only one. We can't think this team is dependent on one player."
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