PARIS – Experienced Italy lock Dean Budd said facing England on Friday in their final Rugby World Cup warm-up Test will be a massive ask after last week’s “slap in the face” defeat to France.
Kiwi-born Budd, 33, came off the bench to win his 22nd Test as the Azzurri suffered a 47-19 defeat to les Bleus on Friday after losing to Ireland and thrashing Russia earlier in August.
“We’ll take it as a real slap in the face and a wake up call and if we do really want to compete we have another month or so to pull our finger out,” Budd told AFP.
“I honestly think they (England) are World Cup contenders, as proper winners. So it’s a massive ask for us after that performance, we have to bounce back.
“We go out every week to win but we have to face the reality that they’re real potential World Cup winners and at least finalists,” he added.
Italy, the only Six Nation side to have never reached the World Cup quarterfinals, will play reigning world champion New Zealand and former winners South Africa after meeting Namibia and Canada in their pool at the tournament.
“We’re not going there just to compete and make up numbers. If we want to get out of our group we have to topple a giant,” Budd said.
“If we put that performance in against Canada or Namibia we’d be scared about the result, so it’s best to have the wake-up calls before the games that mean something,” he added.