Michele Lamaro © Getty Images
Italy’s evolution from damage limitation defence to offensive rugby has been a game changer, captain Michele Lamaro said on the eve of the Six Nations match with defending champions France.
The Italians’ change of tactics under coach Kieran Crowley brought them memorable victories last year over Wales in Cardiff – ending a run of 36 straight Six Nations defeats – and then at home over Australia last November.
France are on a run of 13 successive victories and will present a far stiffer challenge but Lamaro is confident the French will find the new style more challenging.
“In comparison to a year ago, we have taken huge steps forward,” said Lamaro on Saturday.
“We reviewed our style of play, there has been almost a cultural change to the way we approach a match.”
The 24-year-old backrow forward added gone was the time they focused on defence to try and keep the score down although he admitted they still had trouble in seeing out games.
“Now when we can we launch attacks, try and make life difficult for our opponents and above all we do not hesitate to go on the counter-attack,” said Lamaro.
“We are confident because we know we are dangerous, and that is clear to see.
“We are happy to play with the ball.”
Emblematic of this new expansive approach is fullback Ange Capuozzo, who set up the winning try against the Welsh last year and scored two tries in the win over the Wallabies.
“Certainly Ange has a spectacular running game but he is nothing without the collective effort,” said Lamaro.
“Without the work done by us, the forwards, he would not find the space in behind the opposition.
“That is not to say we won’t give him the ball and wait to see what he does with it,” added Lamaro smiling.