Veteran lock Marco Bortolami says he is looking forward to not being burdened with the responsibility of the captaincy for Italy in his third and possibly last World Cup in New Zealand.
Bortolami, who was the Azzurri skipper for a record 37 internationals, is a bulwark of the experienced Italian forward pack who will be out to test the Wallabies' strength in Sunday's opening game at North Harbour.
"I am very happy to be here and it is a special World Cup for me," Bortolami said on Tuesday.
"Firstly, because it is in New Zealand and secondly, because it is likely to be my last one.
"I'm 31 now and it will be very difficult for me to be involved in four years' time.
"Six or seven months ago I wasn't in the squad and I have had to work hard to get back in the team."
Bortolami, who was Italy's youngest-ever captain at 22, is philosophical about no longer being the Azzurri skipper after leading them at the 2007 World Cup in France.
"When you are captain you have a lot of responsibility and have to help prepare the team," he said.
"This time I'm determined to enjoy this tournament as much as possible."
Italy has one of the most respected packs in world rugby with prop Martin Castrogiovanni and No.8 and captain Sergio Parisse considered amongst the best in their respective positions.
Add to that the ever-improving Alessandro Zanni, fellow flank Mauro Bergamasco and Bortolami and Italy are certainly not short on talent and muscle in their front eight.
"We are working very hard and all concentrating on Australia," Bortolami said.
"We all expect to be in the starting lineup, but it is a long World Cup and everyone will get their chance."
Wallabies' coach Robbie Deans on Tuesday pinpointed the Italian forwards as a major obstacle to overcome in Sunday's opening game.
"You only have to look at our recent history with them," Deans said.
"They'll have some plans, and they'll be lying in wait. They'll throw everything into this first one.
"They'll be expecting us to be vulnerable as well, due to the fact that we won our last outings. And if we don't get our heads around that, we could be.
"They have a big pack, and will look to go for a pushover scrum from their own 22m. That's how much they enjoy scrummaging."
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