Rugby: Italy say they can sink Wales without Parisse
Captain 'not only important element' says Brunel22 February, 16:27
It is a massive blow for the Azzurri, who upset France 23-18 in Rome in their opener but lost 34-10 in Scotland last time out, as the 29-year-old is considered one of the best number eights in the world.
But Jacques Brunel's side are upbeat about their chances of beating Wales in Rome on Saturday even without their best player.
"I think we can win this match even without Parisse," Brunel said about the loss of the 29-year-old, who staunchly denies directing the F-word at the ref while playing for his club Stade Francais against Bordeaux at the weekend. "His ban is an injustice but we have to move forward and face Wales without thinking about Sergio's absence. "Lots of players have an influence on the game. Parisse is certainly an important element, but he's not the only one".
Brunel said that Fijian-born loose forward Manoa Vosawai, who has 10 caps, will replace Parisse at the back of the scrum, while prop Martin Castrogiovanni will take charge of the captain's armband. "It's a very important match. We'll be facing it without our captain, my friend Sergio," said Castrogiovanni. "We'll do everything possible to win this match, in part for him. "He's a friend, a great captain, the heart of this team and it's an honour for me to replace him".
Brunel said it was a good omen that Castrogiovanni is returning as captain after skippering the side in wins over Canada and United States last year. "We won two matches out of two with him as captain," said Brunel. "If we keep up this average, we'll win the tournament".
Vosawai's entry into the starting line-up was one of four changes. Kristopher Burton takes over at flyhalf from Luciano Orquera, who was man of the match against France but gave an error-strewn showing in Scotland. Edoardo Gori starts ahead of Tobias Botes at scrumhalf to form a new half-back combination. Lock Antonio Pavanello comes in for Quintin Geldenhuys. After facing Wales, who lost to Ireland and beat France in their previous games, Italy take on England at Twickenham on March 10 and Ireland back at Rome's Stadio Olimpico March 16.
The Azzurri are fifth in the Six Nations table, two points ahead of pointless France and two behind leaders England.