Uruguay’s shock win over Fiji has inspired Canada who are looking for a similar upset when they open their World Cup campaign against Six Nations wooden-spooners Italy in Fukuoka on Thursday.
Canada came within a whisker of shocking Italy at the 2015 World Cup when they raced to a 10-0 lead before being overhauled 23-18.
After Uruguay clung to their early lead to beat Fiji 30-27 on Wednesday, Canada reflected on their disappointment of four years ago.
“We don’t want to go through that heartbreak again,” Canada captain Tyler Ardron said, adding there were positives in waiting for nearly a week to have their first game.
“It was quite nice to have that time to watch the other teams and see Italy play a game already. You’ve got an idea of how they’re going to play, but just to make sure your ideas are right and to see what they´ve changed coming into a World Cup is pretty helpful,” he said.
Canada only scraped into the World Cup via the repechage and with a world ranking of 22, they are eight places behind Italy.
But the mood in their camp was upbeat with centre Nick Blevins saying an upset “can be done” while fullback Peter Parfrey said they wanted to be “identified as a team that is a nightmare to play against”.
Italy go into the match as Pool B leaders courtesy of their seven-try, bonus-point win over Namibia, putting the Italians a point ahead of tournament favourites New Zealand who only touched down twice in overcoming a much tougher opponent in South Africa.
But the 47-22 scoreline flattered Italy and it was Namibia who finished strongest, although the were too far behind on the scoreboard for their late try to have any serious impact.
With a short turnaround between matches, and against a fresh Canada, coach Conor O´Shea has made 10 changes to the starting line-up, including resting influential captain Sergio Parisse.
“It was a choice we made before the first match to balance out the teams over the two matches. I have confidence in all our players and all our players are worth a place in the team. This is the best team for the match,” O´Shea said.
“Sergio wanted to play and that is the same for all the players. Two matches in four days meant we had to use all our squad. He would be ready to play and was magnificent for us against Namibia but I want him at 100 per cent for every match.”
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