Bergamasco happy on the wing as long as there is a smile on his face

FLANKER Mauro Bergamasco is happy to play on the wing for Italy as long as there is a smile on his face.

Dubbed 'Italy's Jonah Lomu', Bergamasco has been asked by coach John Kirwan to play out of position for the Azzurri in this year's Six Nations Championship.

He took to his new role admirably in last weekend's 30-22 victory over Wales and will remain as a back for tomorrow's home clash against Ireland.

"The most important thing for me is that I have fun playing on the wing," Bergamasco said yesterday. "I am happy to play in this new position to help the team out, but it's no good for me unless I am enjoying myself.

"It's difficult to say whether I feel comfortable on the wing because I haven't played there long enough.

"I am happy when I feel I know what I am doing and it will take time to see if this is my true position. I need to find out if playing on the wing is fun for me, or not."

Bergamasco said, although he was pleased to be learning new skills, he was a little concerned that making the switch from flanker could be harmful to his career in the long-term.

"It's a big challenge for me as it's not a simple position psychologically and technically," said the 23-year-old Treviso forward. "I have to understand the principles of playing as a winger and I'm learning something new in every training session, but its not easy to prepare for it in a few weeks.

"For now I am happy, but I have to think about my future and career and

I know that could be a problem.

"I want to play as a flanker, but I also want to develop skills in every area of the pitch. This is my objective.

"I want to be able to play with hands, my feet, and when I run I need to be able to run as a back.

"I have played in may different positions at club level: full-back, scrum-half, fly-half. I think about this change as a new experience."

Looking ahead to tomorrow's clash against the Irish, Bergamasco said he was hoping for another celebration like the one that took place at the team's hotel last weekend.

"After beating Wales we had a massive party and we had such a good time that we want to do it all over again," he said.

"We have been working very hard to achieve this and are very focused on the match against Ireland.

"We know that it is going to be tough, even harder than it was last week against the Welsh, but we badly want to win."

Bergamasco said he was happy with the progress Italian rugby had made over the last 12 months, but insisted the team still had a long way to go before they are considered a force in world rugby: "We are going in the right direction, but there is still plenty of work to do. When we reach the point when we are considered as a team who, on their day, can beat anyone, then we will be happy."

Even though Italy is a country of 60 million people, rugby is still a minority sport in a soccer mad country.

"We don't always get the credit for our achievements. We haven't won a lot of matches against the more established rugby nations but we have run a few of them on close results over the years."

His love of rugby was forged from an early age and he got great encouragement from his father (Arturo) who played for Italy three decades ago.

"Sure, rugby was always in my life. I started playing when I was only six but there was a rugby ball in the house long before that."

It was Frenchman Georges Costes who converted him in the early stages of his international career and he was one of the few players to make an impact on Italy's tour of South Africa in 1999.

He was top dog as Italy embarked on the 1999 World Cup but, unfortunately, suffered a broken rib in the opening game against England.

"That was a major disappointment. Players build up to tournaments like that. Fortunately, I am young enough to play in another one, if not two."

ITALY: P. Vaccari, M. Bergamasco, C. Stoica, G. Raineri, D. Dallan, D. Dominguez, A. Troncon (capt); M. Phillips, A. Persico, A. de Rossi, M. Bortolami, C. Bezzi, R. Martinez, C. Festuccia, G. de Carli.

Replacements: A. Moretti, L. Castrogiovanni, M. Giacheri, S. Palmer, J. Manuel Queirolo, R. Pez, M. Bergmasco.

More in this section

Sport Push Notifications

By clicking on 'Sign Up' you will be the first to know about our latest and best sporting content on this browser.

Sign Up

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Cookie Policy Privacy Policy FAQ Help Contact Us Terms and Conditions

© Irish Examiner Ltd