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Thursday, January 26, 2006


Six Nations: Berbizier remains realistic

Former French star and current Italian coach, Pierre Berbizier, appears determined not to raise false expectations of the Azzurri's prospects in the forthcoming Six Nations.

His predecessor, the legendary John Kirwan, was not quite as circumspect when he took on the role in 2002, saying that the Italians could win the Six Nations within 5 years.

Berbizier, by contrast, has said he will be content if his team give 100% in each match, which should provide at least a solitary victory.

He's no mug at the coaching game, the former French captain coached the French to Five Nations success in 1993.

Berbizier made a good start to his career as Italy coach last November with convincing victories over Tonga and Fiji, and a lively display against Argentina, in which Italy held their own against the Pumas before going down 39-22.

He had this to say, "The first matches will be very difficult for us. England and France always start the competition as favourites,".

"England are world champions -- it will be a pleasure to play them at the Stadio Flamino (in Rome).

"And as we all saw in November, when they beat South Africa and Australia, France are playing at a very high level at the moment. They are almost as tough as the All Blacks."

His 25-man squad has an average age of 24 and there was no room in it for halfback and former captain Alessandro Troncon, who is considered by many to be Italy's greatest-ever player, but whose form has been erratic over the past couple of seasons.

"It's important for our young players to get involved in quality matches, like those in the Six Nations," he said.

"It's the only way they will improve and be prepared for the future, particularly as we look forward to the World Cup next year."

Information sources: Reuters, New Zealand Herald
He was a great player.

He had his moments as the coach of France.

What will he do in Italy?
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