Treviso prop Lorenzo Cittadini insists he is primed and ready to fill the enormous boots of injured talisman Martin Castrogiovanni for Saturday’s Six Nations battle with Ireland.
The 29-year-old has lived his international career to-date in the shadow of Castrogiovanni but after the Leicester prop broke a rib against England two weeks ago – Cittadini is ready to take his chance and centre stage against the Irish.
Ten-time capped Cittadini, who has returned to action following a serious leg injury in 2008 that looked set to end his career prematurely, will pack down at tighthead for Italy opposite Ireland’s Cian Healy – a man he has already faced in the RaboDirect PRO12.
Italy’s game is based around the dominance of their front five in the set piece, so as Cittadini gets ready to team up with fellow prop Michele Rizzo – the scrum will prove a crucial battle ground against Ireland.
“I feel ready, to be honest, I have never felt so ready,” said Cittadini.
“To return to the national side after a serious injury in 2008, when I fractured my tibia and fibula, it is a great line to have crossed.
“The muscle tone of my right leg has never returned to its former level and I have to do a lot of physiotherapy in the gym and elsewhere.
“But the passion I have inside helps me. It won’t be easy in Dublin but we have studied our opponents well and we go there to get a result.
“It will be an important test to check where our growth is. We need to do well in the scrum. Jacques (Brunel) wants 100% from us so we have a stable platform. We won’t let him down.”