Bergamasco returns from injury to save Italian hopes


Italy wing Mirco Bergamasco is to make his RBS 6 Nations return against Wales at Millennium Stadium on Saturday after head coach Jacques Brunel added the Racing Metro player to his 31-man training squad.

Bergamasco, who has won 85 caps and scored 250 points for Italy, recovered from a long shoulder injury after missing the opening rounds of this year's championship.

His return is important for Italy because Bergamasco can solve the Azzurri's big problem of the goal kicker despite his position primarily as a winger or a centre. Bergamasco has become the main kicker of the team in recent years, due to his quality and the lack of good alternatives with fly-halfs. 

In fact, Italy have always struggled with kicking penalties over the years. The last great number 10 remembered by fans in Rome was the Argentina-born Diego Dominguez, who scored 983 points in 74 caps from 1991 to 2003 for Azzurri. 

After him, the Azzurri tried their luck with another fly-half with Argentine origins Ramiro Pez, but his 260 points in 40 caps from 2000 to 2007 were not enough to persuade former coaches Pierre Berbizier and Nick Mallett. 

Then Italy gambled with full-back Andrea Marcato from 2008, but even this solution proved unsatisfactory in the end. 

And now the new coach Brunel decided to trust Tobias Botes and Kris Burton, but none of them made the kicking tee their own. 

Both Botes and Burton have been criticised for their recent inaccurate kicking in the tournament. Bergamasco, who kicked the winning penalty in Italy's historic 22-21 victory against France in the 2011 tournament and then became soon the Azzurri's main kicker at the same year's World Cup, has leapt to the defence of his teammates.

“I don't think Kris and Toby have done badly, you have to look at the state of the pitch and many other things. We mustn't point the finger at the kickers we have now,” he said.

Botes had a shaky game with the conversion in the Azzurri’s third loss in Dublin as the Irish ran out 42-10 winners. His performance followed on from a nervy display with the boot against England two weeks before. For these reasons, coach Brunel said: “We don't want to put him in trouble again.”

In the first three matches of the 2012 Six Nations, Brunel always alternated Burton and Botes with penalties, symptom that there wasn't a clear idea of the roles on the pitch, nor there was a complete confidence in their real possibilities. 

Now that Bergamasco is set to return, Italy can establish the previous hierarchies with the only good solution on penalties found over the recent years. But the problem of the number 10, who should be a natural fly-half able to kick through the posts with a high percentage, remains and it represents one of the worst gaps Azzurri have since almost a decade.  

Suggested Topics
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam