Mallett eyes French focus

Italy coach hoping to overcome Bergamasco blow

By Joe Drabble.   Last Updated: 06/03/08 2:44pm

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Mallett: Tough French test

Mallett: Tough French test

Sky Bet

Italy coach Nick Mallett has told his players to put he absence of Mauro Bergamasco to the back of their minds as they travel to Paris to face France on Sunday.

The Azzurri will be without the influential flanker for 13-weeks after the Stade Francais player paid the penalty for eye-gouging Wales full-back Lee Byrne during Italy's 47-8 defeat in Cardiff last month.

Mallett's men travel to Paris in search of their first RBS Six Nations points of the campaign, and the England-born coach admits he is hoping his side can triumph in the face of adversity.

"Mauro's absence is a big blow for us," said Mallett.

"But Mauro's 13-week ban is just and we accept it. In fact, it's a good thing because the player risked a two-year ban.

"There are no excuses for his gesture and we have shown to the rest of the team the video images and explained to them the reasons why these actions are not permitted.

Victim

"I cannot accept that players lose their cool like this."

However, Mallett claimed Bergamasco had previously been the victim of two fouls which the referee failed to act on.

"Mauro was elbowed in the neck and later was met by a high tackle when trying to pick up the ball," he added.

"But I reiterate he should not have lost his head."

Mallett feels his team have been on the wrong end of a number of decisions during the course of the tournament, and requested his team are treated equally by the officials in Sunday's clash.

Mallett said: "Against England we had eight fouls called against us, with Ireland just six and the international average is 14 per game.

"Hence, we play clean rugby and we want to be treated the same as the others."

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