Italy may not be considered capable of winning the World Cup but in captain Sergio Parisse they have a player who could easily be the tournament's stand-out performer.
The Stade Francais back row forward is widely regarded as one of the best number eights in the world and is captain of both club and country.
For a long time he stood head and shoulders above his international team-mates, an anomaly who must have left Argentina kicking themselves for letting him slip through their grasp.
Parisse was born in Argentina but to first generation immigrant parents and he allegedly spoke Italian at home.
His father, also Sergio, played rugby for L'Aquila in Italy and had only transferred to La Plata in Argentina due to his job with Alitalia.
Unlike many other Argentine mercenaries playing in Italy, Parisse is more an Italian who happened to be born in Argentina.
He began his playing career at 17 in Italy with Treviso and made his international debut at 18.
He was picked by John Kirwan for the 2003 World Cup before signing for Stade Francais in 2005.
He played again in the 2007 World Cup before Nick Mallett installed him as captain ahead of the 2008 Six Nations.
That same year he was nominated by the IRB for the world player of the year award.
For many years he was a tower of strength in the Italy team, the go-to man in all cases of need but in 2010 he missed the whole of the Six Nations with a serious knee injury.
That was the year that Italy's players realised they needed to be more than a simple support cast for their talented captain.
Since then players like Martin Castrogiovanni and Alessandro Zanni have proved that they too are capable of shouldering some of the limelight and taking some pressure off Parisse.
The number eight, though, is still crucial to the team and it is remarkable how often he is the man in the right place and with a cool head under a high ball.
He is also known for his exceptional handling for a forward as well as being the driving force behind the team.
While Italy's backs cannot compete with most of their opponents, the team's forwards are highly regarded the world over.
Chief among them is Parisse and if the team is to achieve its objective of reaching the quarter-finals for the first time, then Parisse will likely play a major starring role.
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.