FLORENCE: The Wallabies must bottle the confidence gained from their improved attacking and victory over England and play a tighter, more disciplined game early against Italy this weekend, Stephen Moore says.
The Wallabies hooker, who appears to be in line to start the match in place of Tatafu Polota-Nau on Saturday, said the team had discussed the importance of containing the Italians in the first half, where they have historically been able to stay level with their more-fancied rivals.
''[Berrick Barnes] made a good point that it might seem like there's a few gaps out there but we can't push things early,'' Moore said. ''We need to be direct and do our basics really well and then hopefully opportunities will come after we do the hard work first.''
Italy trailed the All Blacks by just six points at half-time last weekend before the scoreboard blew out to 42-10. The last time Australia met them, in the first round of pool matches at the Rugby World Cup, the Wallabies were held 6-6 at the break.
''They are quite similar to France and Argentina as well, just a little bit unorthodox and they're a very physical side, they really attack the breakdown hard,'' Moore said.
''I think that's something they did quite well against the All Blacks, put them under a bit of pressure there. [All Blacks centre] Conrad Smith said after the game it was as tough as any opposition they'd faced this year so that's saying something, I think.''
The Italians, under new coach Jacques Brunel, have added an expansive element to their game since the World Cup. The result is effectively a double threat - the Wallabies must be as physical and abrasive as they have been this year at the set-piece and breakdown, but also switched on in defence.
For Wallabies fans who imagined a six-point lead slipping through Australia's fingers when five-eighth Kurtley Beale chimed in with a few short kicks right into English hands in the final 20 minutes of the Test last weekend, that is a terrifying thought. Moore backed the team's strategy against England in that period but said they had to be careful not to ''overdo it''.
''We have to make sure we carry a different philosophy into this week, probably hold on to the ball a little bit more in our own half,'' he said.
''But I thought that worked really well for us on the weekend, we got the ball back most of the time, which was good, and they really attacked our line a fair bit in that last 10 minutes, so it was a gutsy effort by the boys to hold them out.''
Moore said the Wallabies trained strongly on Tuesday.
The story Moore warns of threat Azzurri pose under new coach first appeared on WA Today.