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James Crombie/INPHO Dean Budd and Jayden Hayward walk off after the Six Nations loss to Ireland.
# belief
Italy building on Treviso efforts to 'break the chains' of old order
Dean Budd was part of the Benetton side who pushed Munster close at the business end of the Pro14 campaign.

ITALY SECOND ROW Dean Budd believes Conor O’Shea’s side can build on Benetton’s positive club season after they injected some self-belief into the game and stopped ‘putting teams on pedestals’.

Budd is expected to earn some game time this weekend in Italy’s opening World Cup warm-up game against Ireland at Aviva Stadium, but his last on-field action came in Benetton’s heart-breaking PRO14 quarter-final defeat to Munster at Thomond Park.

Back in Limerick again where Italy are based this week, Budd says that two-point loss against Munster was a turning point for the game in Italy, and with 20 of the current 38-man squad attached to Benetton he thinks that self belief has rubbed off.

“Coming back to Munster certainly has a bit of a bitter feeling after our last Benetton game. To put in such a great performance and not quite get there still has a bitter taste in our mouth,” said the 32-year old, who joined the Italians after a spell in Japan with NEC Green Rockets.

But that has helped us realise that we can win and we’re not the poor cousins of European rugby, who are just included to keep all the politically correct people happy with equality among all. We believe we can win now and realise that in a me-versus-him, in that one-on-one, I can win that.

“There has always been a real prestige in viewing the likes of Munster when playing for Benetton. And coming to Munster for a quarter-final, I’d say we were confident within ourselves, but against one of the best teams in Europe there is always a little doubt.

“To put in the performance we did I think really helped to break the chains of where we’ve been by putting teams on pedestals.”

After this Saturday’s game at Aviva Stadium they return to their Italian base before the take on one of Ireland’s Pool A opponents Russia in their second warm-up game. Their final squad will be picked at that point, after which they also face France and England before their departure for Japan.

Dean Budd and Jayden Hayward dejected after the game James Crombie / INPHO Dean Budd and Jayden Hayward walk off after the Six Nations loss to Ireland. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Despite losing all five of their Six Nations games earlier this year Budd feels Italy are on the right track. To exit their World Cup pool for the first time – and possibly face Ireland in the quarter-finals – they are likely to need a win against either his native New Zealand or South Africa. But armed with the belief of their historic 2016 win over South Africa in Florence, he thinks they can cause a shock.

“It won’t be easy, but the cool thing is we have got a lot of guys in this team that have beaten South Africa before. There is that belief that we can do it again.

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“Watching South Africa on the weekend they are bloody good, and obviously the All Blacks are consistently good. It’s a massive hill to climb, but we have put our focus on it from day one. We don’t want to waste our time and we need to beat one of the big two to get out of the pool.

“Getting out of the pool would mean we’d be the best (Italian team) in history. That’s one of our key phrases that we always go back to when days are shitty and tough. We realise we have to put in those hard yards if we want to create history.

“Anything less than not getting out of the pool will be disappointing, because that’s the reality of rugby. If you’re not in the quarters then you’re just as good as the other teams that aren’t there.”

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