Italy number eight Lorenzo Cannone fancies clash against familiar France

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Italy number eight Lorenzo Cannone fancies clash against familiar France
Cannone in training
Cannone in training
Reuters
Italy suffered a 96-17 loss to New Zealand in their last Rugby World Cup game but the dream of reaching the knockout stages is still alive against more familiar opposition, number eight Lorenzo Cannone (22) said.

After winning their opening two fixtures with Namibia and Uruguay, Italy's campaign fell apart against the All Blacks on a disastrous night in Lyon.

"I think as a young, inexperienced squad we felt the pressure, and we probably just didn't deal with that," Cannone told Reuters.

"There was a fear of making mistakes, of not starting the game on the right foot, and we made a lot of individual errors."

After such a resounding defeat, the players were almost at a loss for words after the game, but Cannone says they managed to move on quickly.

"The atmosphere in the camp is good, already the day after the New Zealand game we all met up, players, coaches and staff," he said.

"We spoke about it, and then it was back to normal. We've trained as we always have this week."

FLORENCE'S MACHINE

Cannone has started all of Italy's World Cup games in France, having also played in every Six Nations game this year.

One of his proudest moments was playing alongside his older brother Niccolo in Italy's 28-27 win over Australia in November 2022, in their native city of Florence.

The siblings also started together in the recent World Cup win over Uruguay and both have now been selected to play in the crunch clash with France.

"Playing at the World Cup with my brother is beautiful, already before that, playing alongside him on my debut was amazing, but getting here to the World Cup together has been, let's say, the cherry on top," he added.

France defeated New Zealand in their opening game, which may not augur well for Italy's chances after what the All Blacks then did to the Azzurri, but France are a more familiar opponent.

"They're a team we know well, when we met in the Six Nations this year there was just a five point gap between the sides, so definitely, we know, that this is not an entirely impossible task," he said.

"Against France it's always a physical battle but we're prepared for that. They're excellent in the turnover and counter-attacks and very strong in the scrum. We need to stop their forwards."

Italy have an exciting side which had impressed many before the performance against New Zealand, but one bad result and whatever happens against France won't change their outlook.

There is also a desire to do well in what could be coach Kieran Crowley's last game in charge, as he leaves the role after the World Cup.

"I see a really bright future for us. We have a lot of young, exciting players, who really want to show what they can do and they have a lot of desire," he said.

"This will obviously be a very important game for Kieran, and all of the players want to do well, and a win or a good performance against France would be the perfect gift."

Italy take on France in Lyon on Friday, where a win for Cannone's side would most likely see them reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup for the first time.

Unlike New Zealand, history is not completely against Italy in their meetings with France, having already defeated them twice in the Six Nations, the last win coming in 2013.

A decade later, and as Cannone said, it is not an impossible task.

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