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Tommaso Allan ‘confident’ Italy can pull off titanic All Blacks upset

Italy have a maximum ten points from their first two games but now face New Zealand and France back-to-back

Harry Latham-Coyle
Thursday 21 September 2023 12:42 BST
Tommaso Allan pulled the srings in Italy’s win over Uruguay
Tommaso Allan pulled the srings in Italy’s win over Uruguay (Getty Images)

Italy‘s Tommaso Allan believes his side are ready to meet the might of New Zealand and France after overcoming Uruguay.

Kieran Crowley’s side survived a scare in Nice, overturning a ten-point halftime deficit to score 31 unanswered points after the interval and continue a perfect start to their Rugby World Cup.

The task now gets significantly tougher, though, with back-to-back meetings against two tournament favourites.

Italy first face the All Blacks in Lyon on Friday 29 September before taking on the hosts in their final Pool A game in the city a week later.

While a last-eight place would appear to be a long shot for the Azzurri, Italy narrowly missed out on a famous Six Nations win against France earlier this year and Allan believes the fightback against Uruguay has instilled a young squad with real confidence.

“We haven’t thought about those two games at all,” Allan said after pulling the strings smartly in the 38-17 win. “Building up to this, we had a block of games prior to these two games coming up which ends now with the Uruguay game. Obviously we’ve been looking at New Zealand during their games a bit.

“We are confident. Both games are going to be tough but we’ve got belief. We’ve shown that we can beat some of the top teams in the world if we stick to our gameplan.

“I think this game has helped a lot with the confidence as well. We can play different styles. Before, we were always trying to play out the back and then play wide; today we went a bit more direct. I think it will give a lot of confidence to the group.”

Allan started Italy’s opening win against Namibia at full back, but was deployed at 10 against Los Teros, operating again in a play-making partnership with Paolo Garbisi, who moved to inside centre.

The pair were instrumental as Italy opened up after half-time having had two players sin-binned in quick succession as Uruguay surged into a significant lead at the break.

Allan was among those to take control on the pitch and feels some wise words from coach Crowley also helped Italy secure victory.

Italy scored 31 unanswered points in the second half as Uruguay faded (Getty Images)

“We came out to put on a show,” the fly-half, who has switched Harlequins for Perpignan this summer, explained. “Even after what happened in the first half, we knew we were going to bounce back. Playing with 13 men was never going to be easy but we were quite calm at halftime.

“I just tried to say not to panic. We defended for almost 10 minutes with 13 men and they just scored the try at the end of those 10 minutes. I was trying to tell the boys: ‘remain calm, we can do this. They’ve only scored one try, it’s not the end of the world’.

“Kieran gave us a few gameplan changes that we followed and the game worked out perfectly. We didn’t play our usual rugby, we went a bit more direct. I think it shows a lot of maturity in the team. A lot of Italian teams back in the day might have crumbled under this, but we just believed we could go out there in the second half and put on a show, which is what we did.”

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