Bergamasco puts Twickers debacle behind him

Italy flanker Mauro Bergamasco has claimed that his Twickenham debacle is well and truly behind him as the Six Nations minnows prepare to face England at the Stadio Flaminio on Sunday.

Bergamasco suffered a humiliating experience in last season’s Six Nations opener when coach Nick Mallett selected him to play at number nine.

He had a disaster and was at least partially at fault for all three of England’s first half tries that rendered the second half, by which time he had been replaced, little more than a procession.

But the Stade Francais back-rower insists he has not let that performance affect him in any way.

“What happened last year was just a professional blip and until you asked me about it right now, I hadn’t even thought about it,” he told AFP.

“It’s not something that’s going to condition everything else a player has done in his career.

“Those who know rugby know what I’m about and one match cannot erase a player’s professionalism or ability, so im not worried about it.

“Obviously playing in my best position (flanker) allows me to give my best to the team but whatever position I’m asked to play in, I’ll do my best, although it can always happen that you make mistakes or don’t play your best.”

With the exception of last year’s horror show, Italy have recently been getting closer to recording a first ever win against England.

In 15 previous clashes, England have won every one but the last time they faced England at home in the Six Nations, Italy came as close as ever, going down narrowly 23-19.

Some could say that their confidence should be low coming into this game as last week’s 29-11 defeat to Ireland in Dublin was their 14th reverse in their last 15 matches, but Bergamasco says that’s all just part of an emerging nation growing up in rugby terms.

“To evolve you have to play against better teams and for Italy it’s not difficult in world rugby to find better teams,” he said.

“And playing the likes of New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and even Ireland gives us the chance to evolve as a team and as a group.” Certainly history tells England that they can be confident and coach Martin Johnson believes his team should come away from Rome with the points.

His side will be looking to build on last weekend’s 30-17 defeat of Wales at Twickenham as they bid to win a first Six Nations title since 2003.

“We should know that if we perform we can beat any team in the competition and we can also lose if we don’t perform,” he said.

“Attitude, when we take the field away from home is a key factor. Do we expect to win, of course that’s what we want to do but there is a process to go through.

“There is potentially an issue after a win of euphoria and getting carried away with yourself but the mark of a good side is backing up a good performance and victory.

“We could play well on Sunday and be in a game that is very close and it could be like that.” Italy’s former Australia under-21 international Luke McLean also believes it will be close and said his team must avoid giving Johnny Wilkinson the chance to kick at goal.

“In most internationals at the moment the team that ends up winning is the team that makes the least mistakes,” he said.

“Simple errors, missing one-on-one tackles, kicking the ball out on the full and putting your team under pressure. Just things like that and obviously last year at Twickenham when you take out the first 30 minutess or so it did turn into a contest.

“Obviously with Johhny Wilkinson kicking, as we saw last week I think he kicked six from six, so we don’t want to be giving away stupid penalties in range and stupid errors in your own half and we must keep concentrated.”


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