Mauro Bergamasco will give a first-hand warning to his Italian teammates to keep the clamps on the Wallabies' explosive No.8 Radike Samo in Sunday's World Cup opener at the North Harbour Stadium.
Samo stunned the All Blacks with a runaway 60-metre try as the Wallabies claimed their first Tri-Nations trophy in a decade with a 25-20 win in Brisbane almost a fortnight ago.
The giant 35-year-old Fijian's return to the Wallabies' squad after nearly seven years in the Test wilderness, is one of the extraordinary success stories of the season.
Samo clinched his World Cup squad selection following his storming match against New Zealand and is set to take on the Italians as the World Cup curtain rises this weekend.
Bergamasco, a regular at openside flank with the Azzurri since 1998, played with Samo at Stade Francais and knows the danger he offers for the Wallabies.
"The Wallabies represent the strongest challenge we have had," Bergamasco told reporters on Thursday.
"I played with Radike Samo in Paris and I know he is really physically strong.
"I was not surprised by Samo's try against the All Blacks as he scored two similar tries with Stade Francais.
"One was in a final and one was during the French Championship and they were exactly the same.
"I know he is really fast, really explosive and strong."
Bergamasco will be in direct competition with the Wallabies' ace David Pocock in the fierce battle for turnover ball at the breakdown.
"The Australian back row is strong, end of story. All of them are of a very high quality," he said.
"They are very hard to play against physically, but that is good as it means you have to raise your level when you play against them."
"We are really excited about this match.
"We have to go into the match in a positive mindset. Any point we can take from the match will be a bonus.
"We have been waiting for this moment for the last few months and so have worked really hard towards this match.
"We have really concentrated on this match and it is a really big, big game."
No.8 Paul Derbyshire said while Italy's opening match with Australia was important, the key game will likely be their last group game against Ireland in Dunedin on October 2.
"Australia is very important for us because it is important for us to start the World Cup really well," Derbyshire said.
"Ultimately though the Ireland match will decide whether or not we go through to the quarterfinals."
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