Italy’s preparation for their Six Nations clash with Ireland on Saturday has been thrown into turmoil amid reports of a major injury doubt.
Reports on Monday evening have speculated that captain Sergio Parisse is facing a race against time to recover from a neck injury in order to face Ireland in Rome this weekend.
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Parisse suffered neck trauma during the Azzurri’s 33-7 defeat to Wales on Sunday, and while they believe that he has not suffered a serious injury, he is still yet to prove that he is fit enough to participate on Saturday.
Team manager Luigi Troiani sounded confident on Monday that the 33-year-old would prove his fitness once he returns to training:
“Parisse yesterday underwent an MRI scan after trauma to his neck that he reported from the match.
“The examination did not show anything special, and already this morning he showed great signs of improvement.
“Tomorrow we hope to get him back on the pitch, to start to prepare for the match against Ireland.”
Nonetheless, neither Troiani nor head coach Conor O’Shea will be able to assess Parisse’s chances of playing until they see him in physical training on Tuesday.
Losing the Stade Francais number eight would be a huge blow to O’Shea at this point of the campaign. Having suffered a second half collapse against Wales, the former Harlequins Director of Rugby will be desperate to put in a competitive showing against his home nation.
To do that without his captain will be a monumental ask, and to do so without Parisse and against an Ireland side looking to right the wrongs of Saturday’s loss against Scotland – it could turn out to be a long afternoon for Italy if Joe Schmidt’s side build up enough early momentum.