Byline: BILLY RUBIN, PETER JACKSON
BEFORE the much anticipated showdown under the gleaming roof of Dunedin's futuristic Forsyth Barr Stadium, Italy have some business to attend to in Nelson tomorrow morning.
To ensure that there is still plenty at stake when they face Ireland on Sunday, Nick Mallett's side must overcome Eddie O'Sullivan and the US Eagles with, the coach hopes, the minimum of fuss and no broken bodies.
The South African, who will leave his post once the tournament concludes, has made his frustration known over Italy's five-day turnaround between their final two matches.
And with freshness very much at the front of his mind, he made nine changes to the squad for the clash with the Eagles in Nelson's Trafalgar Park
Italy have used 30 players in their first two matches with the only player not being used so far hooker Franco Sbaglarini, who was called up to replace the injured Tommaso D'Apice several days ago.
Yesterday, Mallett retained Tommaso Benvenuti in the starting XV, but not the other Italian who scored a pair of tries in the side's 53-17 win over Russia, Giulio Toniolatti. Italy lost 32-6 to Australia in their opening match.
Sergio Parisse will captain the team for the 34th time in a Test.
'We have only four games and we have to win three,' Mallett said. 'I had a look at the players against Russia and there were a lot of defensive errors.
'It was the same backline that played Japan and to concede three tries against Japan and Russia isn't good enough. If this backline had played against Russia, we would have scored just as many points, but conceded far fewer.
'If we play well against the USA we can take off some players and I would like to do so,' Mallett said. 'If I have the chance to take off Sergio Parisse or Martin Castrogiovanni at the 60-minute mark I would love to, but I can't risk the match if the scores are close.'
For his part, O'Sullivan reckons his team can make it tough for the Italians.
'I'm not saying we'll beat Italy, that would be an arrogant thing to say,' O'Sullivan said. 'But I think we can test Italy and see what they've got.
'They are a very good set-piece team, very physical, carry the ball aggressively, take it through phases and have a good kicking game. …