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Jake Polledri’s Preview of the Six Nations

1) Who is the one standout player for Italy that you think will impress?

I believe that Negri will have a good Six Nations. He will be one to look out for; strong ball carrying and an all round physical presence. The cliche answer would be Sergio – he always has a good tournament!

2) Who is the one standout player outside of Italy that you think will impress?

For me, it has to be CJ Stander. I think he will impress, as he always does…Ireland have a lot of pressure to perform in this Six Nations so it’ll be good to see how he goes and of course how the team gets on.

3) Looking at the Italy squad, who are your ones to watch? 

Negri as explained above. Of course Sergio, as a captain and a leader. Tommy Allen – he’s always an attacking threat.

4) Away from Italy, who are your ones to watch?

CJ, for sure – if he plays well then Ireland tend to play well. And Big Billy – what a player!

5) Do you think this is going to be the most competitive Six Nations in some time?

I would like to think so yes, with all the teams getting better, really improving I’d say so. And hopefully with ourselves (Italy) proving we can get some results and ruffle a few feathers!

6) Who is your surprise package and why? 

Surprise package would be Minozzi – he’s very small but his footwork is unbelievable and he has the pace to back it up as well but is unfortunately injured at the moment!

7) Which game are you most looking forward to and why? 

For myself, I would be most looking forward to playing against England for obvious reasons. I’ve never played at Twickenham so that would have been an experience!

8) Do the games in the 6 Nations take on greater importance with it being a Rugby World Cup year or do you think people play for pride at the 6 Nations and take the RWC as it comes?

I think it might have a small affect in terms of the coaches knowing who they want to pick and therefore, will have a good idea who will be going to the RWC. However, the Six Nations is massive in itself, the competition between the nations is so fierce which means we are in store for an entertaining couple of months and some great games to look forward to.

9) Coaching has always been important but now, more than ever, it has an increasingly bigger role in professional sport. 1) What type of approach do you think Conor O’Shea will have for the Six Nations ahead of the RWC? And 2) Who is the coach that you think has got the edge in this years’ 6 Nations? 

Conor has been great for us and even after our wins against Japan and Georgia and building the squad to where it needs to be, he’s looking for us to get some results now and really push teams. We are almost there and only time will tell. Conor is an unbelievable coach and a people manager and I believe with the resources and actual players to choose from, we are punching well above our weight so he definitely has my vote!

10) What do you think the secret is to winning the 6 Nations? What special ingredient do you need to get over the whitewash as winners?

If we knew the secret ingredient then we would be the winners! It’s about having that hunger, being able to gel as a team and all be on the same page in such a short amount of time. In every team there are players that play all over the place; different clubs, different competitions…so being able to gel quickly and efficiently is very important.

11) Everyone has got a shout this year…But who is your pick for the tournament and why?

Italy, I have to back the boys to put some shifts in!!

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