Italians punish Troncon

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Alessandro Troncon may be one of the finest scrum-halves in Europe, but he is not quite good enough to play fast and loose with Brad Johnstone, the straight-talking New Zealander who coaches the Italian national side.

Alessandro Troncon may be one of the finest scrum-halves in Europe, but he is not quite good enough to play fast and loose with Brad Johnstone, the straight-talking New Zealander who coaches the Italian national side.

Troncon, who captained the Azzurri with some success in last season's Six Nations, has been unceremoniously dumped from the Test team following a dispute over club commitments and will not be considered for a recall until February.

"I believe strongly that the greatest honour a sportsman can have is to captain his country," Johnstone fumed yesterday. "It is unforgivable for a captain not to respond when his country calls."

The coach was referring to an incident in July when Troncon asked to be released from part of Italy's tour of the Pacific islands in order to play for his French club, Montferrand.

The scrum-half will miss the autumn fixtures with Canada, Romania and, most damagingly, New Zealand, who take on Italy in Genoa on 25 November.

Meanwhile, Johnstone is seeking a meeting with club coaches to discuss the management of an increasingly hectic international timetable. "There will have to be compromises between myself and the coaches," he said. "I hope I can have a better rapport with them and convince them that I'm trying to work for them and not against them."

Johnstone faces a second half-back issue in attempting to fill a cavernous hole at stand-off, caused by the decision of Diego Dominguez to retire from the Test arena. The two men recently met in Paris, where Dominguez plays for Stade Français, to discuss a possible comeback, and Johnstone remains hopeful of a breakthrough even though the 34-year-old goalkicker shows no sign of rethinking his future. "I've made it known I want Diego to continue; I believe he has two more seasons in him at the top level and I have high hopes that he will return for the Six Nations," Johnstone said.

Comments