Italy target Ireland & Australia at RWC 2011

Italy’s coach Nick Mallet says that he is aiming for Italy to reach their first ever Rugby World cup Quarter final next year in New Zealand.

English born but generally considered to be South African Mallet coached the Springboks to 17 record equaling victories in 1998 is well respected in the rugby world cup but faces a stiff challenge as Italy have never made it out of the group stages.

Italy have been making progress under Mallet and are no longer considered “easy beats” in the Six Nations.

Mallett’s predecessor Pierre Berbizier started the Italian surge and his Italy team threatened Scotland in the last Rugby world cup but failed to beat the Scots and were knocked out of the world cup.

Italy have been pooled at the 2011 Rugby World cup with Australia and Ireland which makes Mallet’s task even more daunting.

“After three years of work I know the players and the ambience well,” he told RTE from the team’s pre-season training base in Valle d’Aosta.

“I think it is very important that Benetton (Treviso) and Viadana (Aironi) have been accepted into the Magners League because it will allow many players to play at a higher level, the fruits of which will be seen in several years.”

Despite the Italian resurgence Italy have not yet taken a TriNations scalp but they will play three internationals against Southern Hemisphere opposition in November.

One of those November Internationals will be against Australia, on November 20 in Florence. They will also play Argentina, on the 13th of November in Verona, and finish with a clash against Fiji, in Modena on the 27th of November.

Two years ago not long after Mallet took over they lost to both Australia, Argentina and the Pacific Islanders but last year they beat Samoa and lost New Zealand and South Africa.

“The Argentina match will give us the chance to get revenge for our last defeat against them, then there will be the excellent Australians and finally Fiji, who are just ahead of us in the world rankings,” added Mallett.

“These will be crucial matches in the build-up to the World Cup.”

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