Six Nations: Parisse sending-off ‘no surprise’

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Shaun Edwards claims it is “no surprise” that Italy captain Sergio Parisse has been sent off for back-chatting to a referee.

Parisse looks set to miss Italy’s RBS Six Nations clash against Wales in Rome on Saturday.

The Stade Francais star was dismissed after he allegedly insulted referee Laurent Cardona during a Top 14 game against Bordeaux-Begles two days ago. Parisse has denied any wrong-doing, but an anticipated minimum ban of six weeks would rule him out of Italy’s remaining Six Nations appointments this season with Wales, England and Ireland.

The 29-year-old will now face French league disciplinary chiefs, probably tomorrow. He was named on Sunday in a 31-man squad to prepare for the Wales game, but Italy coach Jacques Brunel also called up 93 times-capped back-row warrior Mauro Bergamasco, which suggests he fears the worst regarding Parisse.

And there was little sympathy for Parisse from the Wales camp. “It’s not a surprise to me that he has been done for speaking to the referee. It’s nothing he hasn’t done before,” Wales assistant coach and defence specialist Edwards said. “Last Friday we were watching the tape back from our match against Italy last year, and he came out with profanities in the referee’s earshot and saying what he was going to do to one of our players, so it is no surprise to me that he has been done for back-chatting to the referee.”

Edwards, though, also accepts that Parisse’s potential loss is a major setback for the Italians, who opened their Six Nations campaign with victory over France earlier this month before suffering a heavy defeat against Scotland at Murrayfield.

“He is obviously a player who is rated very highly throughout the world,” Edwards added. “Parisse is a very creative player from scrums with his inside balls that cause a problem for defences, and he is a very strong scrummager, particularly in his own 22. He is good in the air and excellent at off-loading, so I’m pretty sure his coach will be hoping he gets off his ban.

Italy team manager Luigi Troiani said: “We’ve seen the pictures and talked to the player. Until further notice, we cannot consider that the player is not available for Saturday’s game, but that said the absence of Parisse would be very heavy.”