Ghiraldini ready to lead Italy

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Italy hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini is prepared to captain the team in the absence of Sergio Parisse against France.

Jacques Brunel's side will be without their talismanic number eight for their Rugby World Cup opener this Saturday, with the loss of Parisse being a major setback.

Ghiraldini has captained the Azzurri in the past and brings a wealth of experience to the role having led his country nine times. However the Leicester forward knows that Parisse's class at the back of the scrum will be sorely missed.

"Clearly he will be greatly missed, as he would be by any team in the world, just look at Stade Français without him," Ghiraldini said.

"On the other hand, it is a chance for other players, even more so for them because it is a World Cup. 

"If I do captain the team I will do so in a natural way as I think that is the right thing to do.

"I won’t change my way of playing and I will do the same things that I always do, even though I will have a few extra things to take care of in the build-up and during the match.

"It isn’t a huge weight and would be a pleasure to captain the team during a World Cup."

Parisse is expected to return for Italy's next match against Canada, after having a haematoma drained in his left leg.