Rugby Union: Gatland orders Irish to switch on

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The Independent Online
THE IRELAND coach Warren Gatland and captain Paddy Johns have demanded maximum effort against Italy at Lansdowne Road today with the aim of erasing painful memories of defeat by Scotland.

"We're still feeling the disappointment of having lost to the Scots last month but you can't look back," Johns said. "Our aim will be to put things right in this game."

Ireland's Five Nations campaign is complete and they sit at the bottom of the table with two points. That is the same total as France and Wales who are in championship action this weekend.

Johns does not underestimate Italy, who last month lost to Wales and Scotland. "I've played against them three times and I haven't yet been on a winning team," he said.

Gatland said: "Unless we have 15 players switched on, we could have a hard task on our hands. This is an important game for us.

"Against Scotland, we made too many mistakes and failed to take our chances. So this is a big game for us, although you could say that it's a no-win situation. If we do win and win well, people will say the Italians are poor and that they're not up to it.

"If they win, it will be seen as a bad performance by us. We've got to put that stuff aside and concentrate on our own performance."

Eric Miller is to have an operation today on a troublesome tendon. Recovery time is estimated at six weeks, so he will definitely miss Ireland's upcoming four-match tour to Australia.

IRELAND (v Italy, Lansdowne Road, today): C O'Shea (London Irish); J Bishop (London Irish), K Maggs (Bath), R Henderson (Wasps), G Dempsey (Terenure College); E Elwood (Galwegians), C Scally (UCD); J Fitzpatrick (Dungannon), R Nesdale (Newcastle), P Clohessy (Young Munster), P Johns (Saracens, capt), J Davidson (Castres), T Brennan (St Mary's College), D O'Cuinneagain (Sale), V Costello (St Mary's College).

Replacements: J Bell (Dungannon), B O'Driscoll (UCD), C McGuinness (St Mary's College), D Corkery (Cork Constitution), A Ward (Ballynahinch), P Wallace (Saracens), K Wood (Harlequins).

ITALY: Pertile; Roselli, Preo, Martin, Baroni; Dominguez, Troncon; De Carli, Moscardi, Properzi, Cristofoletto, Giacheri, Giovanelli, Saviozzi, Arancio.