Bergamasco steps in to defend Italy’s kickers

Mirco Bergamasco has jumped in to defend Italy’s under-fire kickers Kris Burton and Tobias Botes saying that they have been unfairly criticised.

Australian-born Burton and South African-born Botes have been erratic with the boot in Italy’s first three Six Nations matches, both as place kickers and with tactical kicking from the hand.

Bergamasco, Italy’s first-choice place kicker over the last two years, has yet to make a Six Nations appearance this season due to injury.

And despite Italy recently leaving points on the field, he believes Burton and Botes have fared not too badly in what he says were difficult circumstances.

“I don’t think Burton and Toby have done badly, you have to look at the state of the pitch and many other things,” said Bergamasco.

“Against England there was snow and they were difficult positions, Toby hit the bar (against Ireland) from a difficult position.

“Kris hasn’t messed up much so far. We mustn’t point the finger at the kickers we have now.

“We’re working hard every day to try to do well every weekend.

“The important thing is to have competition between three or four kickers and on Saturday our kicking must be better.”

Despite the positive appraisal, the evidence suggests Bergamasco’s quick return would be welcomed. Botes missed three relatively straightforward kicks against Ireland, while he also hit two woeful attempts against England last month.

Those six missed points cost Italy dear as they lost by just four points at home to the English.

But there is hope for Italy with Bergamasco nearing a comeback.

“I’ve been working only on getting back as soon as possible and having the chance to play these next two weeks,” he said.

“I will do everything possible to get into the new coach’s plans.

“I’m more than happy with my first 20 minutes (this season) with (club side) Racing and I hope to get my chance in this Six Nations in the next two weeks.”

Italy are once again bottom of the Six Nations table and heading to a likely wooden spoon encounter with Scotland in Rome in 10 days.

Before that they face the tournament favourites Wales in Cardiff this weekend and Bergamasco says they are determined to make up for their 42-10 thrashing by Ireland last time out.

“We’re motivated, we still have two weeks to go. We know we can’t win (the competition) but we need to have two great performances,” he said.

“Especially in Wales where it will be very hard as they’re the best team on paper.

“We must put them in difficulty. It depends on us, we want to make up for the Ireland performance and finish in the best way possible.

“It’s important for eveyone to show his worth and to give the coach choices to make in the future.”

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