History will not help us against South Africa, says Braley

Italy half-back insists 2016 win over the Springboks will count for nothing when they meet in Shizuoka.

FUKUOKA, 27 Sep – Callum Braley will not be looking backwards for inspiration ahead of Italy’s match against South Africa.

An Azzurri win in Shizuoka on Friday would ensure their passage to the quarter-finals for the first time, but the Springboks hold sway in their past meetings, with 13 victories to Italy’s one.

That 20-18 victory came in Florence in 2016 and is the highlight of Conor O’Shea’s tenure as Italy coach.

But scrum-half Braley, above, is aware that harking back to that result will do little to help Italy next week, especially as only five of the starting XV that day were selected for RWC 2019.

"Everyone knows that in rugby three years is a very long time," Braley said.

"They’ve had some really good wins over the last six months. We will be watching them and seeing what we can do."

Italy will start the match against South Africa on top of Pool B following bonus-point wins over Namibia and Canada.

Braley did not feature against Namibia, but the 25-year-old started against Canada and came close to marking his World Cup debut with a try, only being denied when Canada's Patrick Parfrey won the race to Matteo Minozzi’s grubber kick.

His half-back partnership with Tommaso Allan played a huge part in steering Italy through a tricky period when the Canadians threatened to fight back midway through the first half.

"He (Allan) is a fantastic player and a vital cog in our attack," Braley said.

"He runs a lot of what we do, so is a massive part of our team. His communication on the field and off it is fantastic. Being dual-lingo means he is a vital part (of our plans)."

RNS ji/sg/icr