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Thursday 14 December 2017

Italy aiming for World Cup shot

The Italian players celebrate their victory as Brian O'Briscoll and his Ireland team-mates applaud the Italian's from the pitch after the game in 2013
The Italian players celebrate their victory as Brian O'Briscoll and his Ireland team-mates applaud the Italian's from the pitch after the game in 2013

Ireland must prepare for a World Cup warning shot from Italy in Saturday's Six Nations opener in Rome, according to former Azzurri prop Andrea Lo Cicero.

Lo Cicero believes Italy must harness the hurt of last year's 46-7 defeat to Ireland that proved a dream Dublin send-off for Brian O'Driscoll to have any chance of beating Joe Schmidt's tournament favourites.

Italy lost all five matches last year en route to the wooden spoon and Lo Cicero believes a strong Six Nations will be vital to the side's World Cup chances.

The 103-cap front-rower has challenged Italy to produce a Six Nations backlash to act as a springboard to facing Ireland and France again in Pool D at the World Cup.

"I hope the Italian players remember what happened in Dublin when they come into this game," Lo Cicero said.

"They've got to take the frustrations from that game and bring them into this match.

"Italy aren't in the best shape at the moment, but during November things did improve slightly.

"There's a lot of young players coming through, but they don't have experience and they haven't gelled well yet with the experienced players.

"They will need a good Six Nations to boost their chances at the World Cup.

Friday night ties are here to stay

Friday night rugby is here to stay after the fixtures for the 2016 and 2017 Six Nations were announced.

The 2015 tournament kicks off tomorrow night when Wales host England and the Millennium Stadium will again play host to Friday night rugby in the next two tournaments.

France will visit Cardiff on Friday, February 26, 2016 and a year later Ireland are the visitors, on Friday, March 10, 2016, organisers announced on Wednesday.

Wilson banned

Glasgow's Ryan Wilson has been banned for three months without pay after the Scotland forward's conviction for assault.

The suspension, which begins with immediate effect, also prohibits Wilson from training with Glasgow.

The disciplinary panel of the Scottish Rugby Board also ruled that Wilson will not be eligible to play for Scotland until August 23, though he will be available for the World Cup.

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