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Wallaby legend David Campese, who counts Italy as his second home, tells DELME PARFITT why Wales need to be on red alert in Rome tomorrow. HE'S Gavin Henson's hero, he knows the Italian rugby psyche inside out, and he's John Kirwan's best mate.

A good time then to pick the brains of legend David Campese, the man who patented rugby's version of the goose-step.

It was a party trick that dazzled a young and impressionable Welsh boy who would one day win the heart of the nation with a last-gasp match winning penalty against England.

And Aussie great Campo, who spent 10 years of a 101-cap career playing club rugby in Milan, has issued a stark warning to Mike Ruddock's men ahead of their second Six Nations clash of the season in Rome.

'My mate JK's job is on the line over this match,' said Campo.

'Italy have to start winning games not just losing gallantly.

'I know the way the Italians think and I still speak to a lot of friends and contacts over there.

'The vibes I am getting is that they are desperate now for results and that even though Wales beat England, the Welsh match at home is still one they target.

'So the Welsh had better watch out.

'One thing is certain, if one per cent of them dwell on the win against England they'll come a cropper to Italy.'

Of course, its football that still dominates the pages of Gazetta dello Sport.

But Campese says the patience threshold of the powers-that-be on the rugby scene could soon start to resemble those of Juventus, AC Milan and Roma.

And unless the final scoreboards start favouring the Azzurri, the dreaded P45s could soon start circulating.

'When it comes to coaches in sport getting results, Italy is a completely ruthless country,' he said.

'In Milan I used to get told no end of times by the coach that we either won a particular match or he was for the chop.

'It's getting towards that for JK now.

'He was a great player, although I have no experience of him as a coach.

'What I do know though is that a winless Six Nations campaign will not be acceptable in Italy.

'If it happens, I think JK will go.

'So that gives you an idea of what is riding on this match for Italy.

'They have lost to Ireland, they're not going to beat England or France realistically so then you've got Scotland and Wales and the Scotland game is away for them.

'They will see that as a bigger task than Wales at home.'

Campese was one of Wales' biggest supporters at the 2003 World Cup, lauding the free-flowing attacking style that characterised the closing defeats to New Zealand and England.

He was originally pretty dismissive of Steve Hansen's side when they first arrived for the tournament Down Under, but publicly changed his tune when the team clicked into life in the latter stages.

He's stuck the knife into the national game here on many occasions in the past, with his chief gripe being the propensity to hark back to the glorious 70s.

As Campo used to say, what's the point of listening to history lessons?

But now the man who won the World Cup with the Wallabies in 1991, after infamously talking England into attempting to play an open game in the final, insists he has nothing but admiration for the red shirts.

'Since the World Cup Wales have really developed, they have come a hell of a long way,' said Campo.

'It really is great to see them emerging at last after so many years in the doldrums.

'To be fair I thought they looked like beating England at Twickenham 12 months ago.

'And while England were missing a few I don't think that comes into it. Anyone who plays at that level should be good enough.

'But if there's one trap I see awaiting Wales it is for them to see the England victory as the be all and end all.

'I used to get told of how if the Welsh beat the English nothing else that season mattered.

'That's a load of bull.

'The same situation exists in Australia to a certain extent where if Queensland beat New South Wales in the Super 12 they see it as a good season.

'No, Wales have to look at it as 'one down, four to go' and nothing else.

'They can talk as much as they like about not taking Italy lightly, but do they believe it?

'If they don't they're in trouble.

'You have to understand the mentality of Italian rugby - one day they are up and on top of the world.

'The next, they are down in the dumps and easily beatable.

'You have to hope that you do not catch them on a good day, because then Kirwan is right, they can beat almost anyone, no matter who they are, in world rugby.': LINE-UPS:Wales 15 - G Thomas (Toulouse, c) 14 - H Luscombe (Dragons) 13 - T Shanklin (Blues) 12 - G Henson (Ospreys) 11 - S Williams (Ospreys) 10 - S Jones (Clermont Auv) 9 - D Peel (Scarlets) 1 - G Jenkins (Blues) 2 - M Davies (Gloucester) 3 - A Jones (Ospreys) 4 - B Cockbain (Ospreys) 5 - R Sidoli (Blues) 6 - J Thomas (Ospreys) 7 - M Williams (Blues) 8 - M Owen : DECISIVE BATTLES: Alessandro Troncon v Dwayne Peel:The veteran Italian gave something of a scrum-half masterclass against Ireland last weekend and Peel will need to be on top of his game. Treviso's number nine is one of the best about when it comes to close in breaks and sniping around the fringes, threats that the Scarlets half-back must try and snuff out at source.: Martin Castrogiovanni v Gethin Jenkins:As with buses, so it is with tight-head props. You wait ages for one, then two come along in successive weeks. Having comfortably seen off the threat of Julian White, Jenkins' confidence will be on a high, but his Calvisano opponent is another of Europe's big front row beasts. The Italian gave Reggie Corrigan an uncomfortable afternoon and will be out to do the same against the Blues loose-head.: Marco Bortolami v Robert Sidoli:The Blues lock's revitalised form is likely to be given another severe test by Italy's highly regarded lineout ace and captain.Sidoli didn't get much change out of Ben Kay but he may get some inside knowledge on Bortolami from his Narbonne colleague Gareth Llewellyn.: Mauro Bergamasco v Martyn Williams:This showdown between the two openside flankers promises to be a real cracker. Both of their respective opponents last week - Denis Leamy and Andy Hazell - have subsequently been dropped, testimony to their rivals' effectiveness in the first round of matches.: FROM PAGE 63: CAMPO FILES:Born: October 10, 1962 Age: 42 Nickname: Campo Birthplace: New South Wales Nationality: Australian Position: Wing/Full-back Caps: 101 Tries: 64 International debut: (v New Zealand 14/8/82) Last match: (v Wales 1/12/96) Campo began his rugby union career with the Queanbeyan Mighty Whites in the ACTRU competition After retiring in 1998, he was appointed national coach to the Singapore Rugby Union. The star of Australia's 1991 World Cup victory, he was one of the early year-round players, spending the southern winter in the Sydney club competition and the northern winter in Italy. Apart from his outspoken remarks, his trademark move was the 'The Goose step' - a technique that fooled opponents into thinking he was slowing down when in fact he was speeding up.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:Feb 11, 2005
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