Italy international Seb Negri has penned his latest column for Talking Rugby Union where he discusses the influx of youth in the Azzurri camp, the upcoming autumn fixtures and the importance of representing his country.
Like I repeatedly say on Talking Rugby Union, it is always very surreal to represent Italy. I was actually speaking to my family on Tuesday saying that this weekend could be my 26th cap and it was sort of like a ‘pinch yourself moment’. I think I am the sixth or seventh highest capped member of the current side which is a little bit strange, but at the same time, it is a big responsibility!
I am starting to get a little bit more experienced and we have got quite an inexperienced side so it is not only up to me, but up to all of the guys that have that little bit more experience to take this team forward.
There are a lot of youngsters coming through which is only good for Italian rugby going forward. I don’t want to give too much away in terms of the talent coming through! Let’s just say there are a few good youngsters and it is only going to be really exciting for us!
Obviously, we are training with them now but I have played against some of them in the derbies so there are some really good, young guys in the squad. I think we have to drive standards and push the team forward to do everything we can to ensure that Italian rugby is going in the right direction. I guess time will tell.
We have been training really hard and we are fitting into a new system under a new coach, but we have got nothing to lose. We want to go into every single game wanting to win and we really want to show people what we can do.
We are looking forward to facing them. These last two Six Nations games are always tough; playing away in Ireland and then here against England so it won’t be easy, but there are lots of opportunities for us.
It is never easy playing Ireland. They have a lot of quality all over the pitch. We have done our analysis on them and we know where they are strong, but I think this week has also been about ourselves and what we can take forward into the game because I think we have got a lot of strengths. We want to go there and express ourselves and just leave it all out there. It has been a long time since we played international rugby so there is a lot of excitement.
I think the Pro14 start has only helped us with this. If you try to look at the positives of this whole situation, we have had a little bit of time to get our bodies right and get over the bumps and bruises but, these two games that we [Benetton] have played in the Pro14 have got us used to that game speed and that is only going to help us going forward into these international games.
Another show of pure strength ??@slnegri04 crashes over to get @BenettonRugby right back in the game ??— PRO14 RUGBY (@PRO14Official) October 10, 2020
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I think the tests that us Benetton guys had against Ulster and Leinster have been good. They are two very physical sides that also move the ball a lot. I think the first 20 minutes against Ulster was some of the quickest rugby I have played. For sure, that is going to help our physical side of things but also our mental side of things going into these games knowing that we have come across some really good teams in the league already.
First of all, we want to go there, focus on ourselves and give a really good performance. We know that there is going to be a lot of Italian people watching and a lot of people around the world watching and we want to make people proud.
This country has been through a lot so we want to go to Ireland, give a good account of ourselves and make people proud because we are not only representing our families and our friends, but we are representing the whole of Italy so we want to go there and give a good performance.
It makes me very proud, like I have always said, to see players from Hartpury doing so well. Hartpury is one of the best places to go through and I used it as a stepping stone to further my career and those guys who were in Europe with Bristol and Exeter last week have done that too.
It is great to see the names that have been linked with Hartpury doing so well and it is not surprising. I have got Jake [Polledri] on the team bus in front of me here and Callum Braley is another one so it is really good to have these names coming through Hartpury and it just shows what a great institution it is.
Seb was talking to TRU's Chris Heal