ITALY talisman Sergio Parisse will head into the dock tomorrow with Wales declaring themselves unsurprised that he has been accused of backchatting to a referee.
Italian rugby’s greatest player faces being ruled out of the Six Nations encounter in Rome on Saturday after being sent off for allegedly insulting an official while playing for Stade Francais against Bordeaux-Begles in the Top 14.
He has since protested his innocence, but Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards claimed the 29-year-old had form when it came to giving referees lip.
“It’s no surprise he has been done for speaking to referees because it’s not something he hasn’t done before,” said Edwards.
“Funnily enough, we were watching footage from the game last year and he came out with profanities in the ref’s earshot about what he was going to do to one of our players if he did the same thing again.
“So, it’s no surprise to me that he has been done for backchat to a referee.”
Edwards continued: “He is a player who is rated highly throughout the world and I am pretty sure his coach will be hoping he gets off, but it’s of no surprise whatsoever that he has got done for backchat to a referee.
“I was only watching footage on Friday of the game last year and you can clearly hear him on the ref’s mic, and the profanities, and what damage he was going to do one of our players.”
Parisse would expect a ban of at least six weeks if he is found guilty at the French league hearing on Wednesday.
That would be a savage blow to Italy, a point Edwards underlined.
“He is a world class player,” said Edwards
“But I’m sure they won’t play with 14 if he’s not available. They’ll have someone else in his place.
“We just have to handle whoever is playing No. 8 for Italy, whether it’s Sergio Parisse or his back-up.”
Meantime, Sam Warburton has vowed to bounce back after being left out for the trip to Italy.
He said: “Much worse things can happen in life. You love playing rugby and do everything you can to make sure you get back in the side.
“Playing for Wales is the pinnacle for any player in the squad. I will do everything I can to get back in a starting jersey.”