Ireland scrum half Conor Murray has said the Ireland team is well aware Sergio Parisse is the man to watch as the countdown starts to tonight's match.
“The first two weeks were really, really tough work. We really focused on ourselves, our own performances and moving things in the right direction,” Murray said.
“I suppose this week we'll probably be tested a little more. There is a real Six Nations feel to it. We've played them quite a lot over the last few years, quite a lot from our squad anyway. Not that we know what to expect, but we know the challenges we'll face.”
In preparation for the Italy game Murray said the Ireland lads were alert to the danger posed by Parisse Parisse.
“With Parisse coming back, that will galvanise them even more. It is a knock-out game for both sides. If we win this, we know we are through the group. Next week, then, is another matter. It's a must-win game for them so it'll be a tough, intense game.”
Murray described the challenge the team face with Parisse back on the pitch.
“He will galvanise them. He's back and in the squad. He's a world-class player. We know that from seeing him over the last few years and, especially, playing against him what a good player he is, the threats he will bring.
"He is a bit of an X-Factor player as well. He can bring something out of nothing and [he] can be a magician for them. He'll be pretty important for them.”
Talking about the new additions to the team, Murray said he was confident in his team mates and felt they were a ‘good unit’.
“We've got in as many reps as we've needed to feel like we're a good unit. We've learnt our backline moves, our defence and reading off one another. Throughout camp, over the last number of seasons, these guys have been in and running moves. Like I've said many times before, when a player slots in he knows his stuff and it doesn't halt the team in any way.”
Looking at the Italy team as a force to be reckoned with Murray predicted where they will put the boys in green under pressure.
“They will test us up front and we know they are a passionate side. Their pack is a big unit and they'll probably try to go after us, physically, all over the park - at the breakdown and at the scrum, particularly. They have a lot of pride in that area too,” Murray said.
“Tactically, we have to be well aware but we have to be ready for a physical battle.”
Meanwhile, Ireland fans were looking forward to a keen contest when we caught up with them yesterday, and expected Ireland to be celebrating a place in the quarter finals later.
Shaun Cronin, head sports reporter, breakingnews.ie speaking about the Ireland v Italy RWC pool match with Nick Purewal, PA Rugby Correspondent at the Ireland Rugby team Captain's run in the Olympic Stadium, UK. Video by Dan Linehan