Azzurri plan a trick or two for the Wallabies
ITALIAN rugby's kings of confusion have promised surprises to trip the wounded Wallabies just when they need to shake sense and order into their game.
Wallabies boss Michael Cheika may need to scan the 206-page Laws of the Game before Saturday's 3pm kick-off to second-guess where the Azzurri plan to trick him.
Italy's canny Irish coach Conor O'Shea has already stunned the rugby world twice in the past 12 months, so Suncorp Stadium should be prepared for anything.
The Italians upset South Africa 20-18 last November but it was the "offside trap" tactic that flummoxed England and Eddie Jones that has sent up a warning flare for the Aussies.
"We are a team that likes to come up with surprises and cause confusion," Italian lock Andries van Schalkwyk said.
He was unconvincing with his chuckle when asked directly whether the tactic that earned a 10-5 half-time lead at Twickenham in February would be thrown at the Wallabies.
"(Laughs) That was a once-off, so probably not ... (It will be) modified when it happens.
"We always try to disrupt and No.1 is being a really hard team for Australia to play against."
The Italians have lost all of their 16 Tests to the Wallabies playing traditional rugby less well, so a splash of the unorthodox from O'Shea is wise gambling.
Jones raged at O'Shea's tactic, despite a 36-15 rally, but it was inside the laws and got a tick from Cheika.
"I appreciated Michael being supportive because he said rugby is about different ideas and shapes ... but it hadn't been played against him," O'Shea said with a laugh.
Italian players seemed to be permanently positioned offside past the English rucks and made it impossible for the halfback to make a clear pass.
O'Shea reasoned that by not contesting possession, after an Italian tackler rolled away, no ruck had been formed and no offside line existed.
French referee Romain Poite agreed, which suggests a likely meeting between Cheika and Saturday's English referee Matthew Carley to judge his view of the puzzle.
Van Schalkwyk spoke impressively about O'Shea transforming Italian rugby and his own 14-Test career journey from Bloemfontein to the Azzurri.
"Conor is doing everything to make this the best Italian team there has ever been and it's a privilege to be part of it," he said.
"We know we have to front up against a very good Wallabies team.
"What brings them into the game is fast-ball momentum for Folau, Kuridrani, those guys. So, yes, we will be trying to disrupt the rhythm."