‘Best’ ever Italy confident ahead of Namibia clashThu, 07 Sep 2023 11:52:16 GMT

Australian-born wing Monty Ioane on Thursday lauded Italy’s best ever World Cup outfit ahead of their tournament opener against Namibia this weekend.Although they again finished bottom of the last Six Nations tournament having lost all five matches, Italy have in the last 18 months recorded a first ever win over Australia and a first win away to Wales.In February they came close to turning over the then-reigning Grand Slam holders France in the Six Nations.”Is this the best World Cup Italian team? I am 100 percent sure that it is,” said Ioane at the Italian team announcement on Thursday. “You’ve got a lot of young boys coming through and it’s crazy, they just don’t feel pressure.” Ioane, who scored three tries in Italy’s last warm-up match against Japan, is part of an exciting back three picked by New Zealander coach Kieran Crowley for the Pool A opener.French-born Ange Capuozzo is set to make his World Cup bow at right wing while Tommaso Allen lines up at full-back, with Paolo Garbisi picked at fly-half.Zimbabwe-born flanker Sebastian Negri said this was the “best” environment he has been a part of in seven years as an Italy international.”It’s a young exciting group. Kieran (Crowley) has driven standards, and it’s an ambitious group, all of us are on the same page” said Negri.Namibia’s head coach Allister Coetzee picked an experienced line-up for the match in Saint-Etienne on Saturday.The South African has selected eight players who played against Italy at the last World Cup in Japan, four years ago.Former Bayonne hooker Torsten van Jaarsveld, 36, is in the starting line-up alongside props Aronas Coetzee, 35, and 30-year-old Des Sethie.Lock Tjiuee Uanivi, 32, also starts while 35-year-old prop Casper Viviers is on the replacements bench.The sides have won two each of their previous four encounters.They line up in Pool A alongside tournament favourites France and New Zealand, and Uruguay.Teams:Italy (15-1):Tommaso Allan; Ange Capuozzo, Juan Ignacio Brex, Luca Morisi, Montanna Ioane; Paolo Garbisi, Stephen Varney; Lorenzo Cannone, Michele Lamaro (capt), Sebastian Negri; Federico Ruzza, Dino Lamb; Simone Ferrari, Giacomo Nicotera, Danilo FischettiReplacements: Hame Faiva, Ivan Nemer, Marco Riccioni, David Sisi, Manuel Zuliani, Martin Page-Relo, Paolo Odogwu, Pierre Bruno Namibia (15-1):Divan Rossouw; Gerswin Mouton, Johan Deysel (capt), Danco Burger, JC Greyling; Tiaan Swanepoel, Damian Stevens; Johan Retief, Richard Hardwick, Wian Conradie; Tjiuee Uanivi, Adriaan Ludick; Aranos Coetzee, Torsten van Jaarsveld, Des SethieRemplacements: Jason Benade, Louis van der Westhuizen, Casper Viviers, Tiaan de Klerk, Prince Gaoseb, Jacques Theron, Andre van der Berg, Le Roux Malan./ll/mdm/bc/jc/bsp