Ian Foster's men cannot afford another slip-up after losing to France in the opener
New Zealand are in uncharted territory. Never before have they had to fight their way out of a Rugby World Cup pool. But defeat to France in this tournament’s opening fixture means there is no room for error against Italy in Lyon on Friday night. Here are our New Zealand v Italy predictions.
The All Blacks are currently third in Pool A while Kieran Crowley’s Italy are sitting pretty in second with a maximum ten points from their first two games against Namibia and Uruguay. The Azzurri now have the big boys to play, however, with hosts France to follow this clash. But their future is in their own hands with plenty of pressure on Ian Foster’s side.
New Zealand v Italy predictions
Josh Graham: New Zealand by 17. Defeat to France has the All Blacks going under the radar and that’s a dangerous place for this team stacked full of quality to be. Italy have looked good in parts but a dominant first-half display by Uruguay revealed their frailties. Coach Crowley is a World Cup-winning Kiwi himself but he’s unlikely to pull off Italy’s first ever win over the ABs here.
Alan Dymock: New Zealand by 23. Some Kiwi demons need exorcised, and while the Italians play a fun brand of swashbuckling rugby when in form, this is a New Zealand outfit conditioned to feast off errors. And they are hungry to get back on track. That back-five of the pack is what should concern the Azzurri. They will spoil and slow ball and they carry hard on the front foot.
Kick Off Time 8pm BST – 9pm Local –Friday 29th September
TV Channel ITV1 (UK) – How To Watch The Rugby World Cup
Venue Olympique Lyonnais Stadium, Lyon
Fun Fact: A Ligue Magnus ice hockey game between Lyon and Grenoble held at the Parc Olimpique Lyonnais on 30 December 2016 holds the all-time record for an ice hockey match held in France – with 25,142 in the stadium that day.
New Zealand form
Lost to France
Lost to South Africa
Lost to Ireland
NEW ZEALAND V ITALY HEAD-TO-HEAD RESULTS
The All Blacks have not lost a match against Italy in the 36 years they have played one another. They were supposed to play at the 2019 World Cup but the match was cancelled because of Typhoon Hagibis, and recorded officially as a 0-0 draw.
This fixture was also the very first Rugby World Cup match ever staged, the 1987 opener. The All Blacks won 70-6. They met again in 1999 and scored even more, winning 101-3.
New Zealand v Italy team news
The All Blacks welcome back Jordie Barrett and Shannon Frizell from injury while regular skipper Sam Cane is on the bench and fellow replacement Sam Whitelock is set to make history by overtaking Richie McCaw’s All Blacks caps record.
NEW ZEALAND Beauden Barrett; Will Jordan, Rieko Ioane, Jordie Barrett, Mark Telea; Richie Mo’unga, Aaron Smith; Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Codie Taylor, Nepo Laulala; Brodie Retallick, Scott Barrett; Shannon Frizell, Dalton Papali’i, Ardie Savea (captain)
Replacements: Dane Coles, Tamaiti Williams, Tyrel Lomax, Samuel Whitelock, Sam Cane, Cam Roigard, Damian McKenzie, Anton Lienert-Brown
Italy coach Kieran Crowley has elected to start with Harlequins’ Dino Lamb in the second row while Luca Morisi returns at inside centre with Paolo Garbisi at fly-half and Tommaso Allan at full-back.
ITALY Tommaso Allan; Ange Capuozzo, Juan Ignacio Brex, Luca Morisi, Montanna Ioane; Paolo Garbisi, Stephen Varney; Danilo Fischetti, Giacomo Nicotera, Marco Riccioni; Dino Lamb, Federico Ruzza; Sebastian Negri, Michele Lamaro (captain), Lorenzo Cannone
Replacements: Hame Faiva, Ivan Nemer, Simone Ferrari, Niccolo Cannone, Manuel Zuliani, Toa Halafihi, Martin Page-Relo, Paolo Odogwu