Kirwan's Boys Must Be Given Short Shrift at HQ

By Best, Dick | The Evening Standard (London, England), March 7, 2003 | Go to article overview
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Kirwan's Boys Must Be Given Short Shrift at HQ


Best, Dick, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: DICK BEST

ITALIAN hopes of a dream Six Nations Championship were quashed a fortnight ago in Rome, when a repeat performance of their opening game in the tournament against Wales was not only beyond them, it was seriously unrealistic.

The euphoria which followed that epic second win in the Championship since their introduction three years ago was misplaced, as was their ability to turn over one of the tournament favourites, Ireland.

That victory over Wales was just what the doctor ordered, because it was beginning to look a bit bleak for the Italians' future in the competition.

Questions were being asked and Italy were beginning to look short on answers, but the triumph has brought them some badly needed breathing space.

The change to their coaching hierarchy seems to have worked a treat with the introduction of legendary All Black winger John Kirwan as head coach. His knowledge of Italian rugby, having played there earlier in his career, is vital to this period in Italy's history.

That Kirwan speaks fluent Italian is without doubt a major asset and, in conjunction with his fellow New Zealand forwards coach Lester Rutledge, Italy are in a good position to improve and build on his solitary success.

Unfortunately, the building process will have to be postponed this weekend against England as there is little hope of a Twickenham upset.

Italy will only be too aware of England's 19 consecutive victories at HQ and damage limitation must be Kirwan's primary concern.

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