The news continues to get worse for Declan Kidney as he prepares his Ireland side for the Six Nations, and Tommy Bowe’s knee injury will hit the Irish team hard.
Bowe joins Shane Horgan and Rob Kearney on the physio’s bench meaning Ireland have lost their two first team wingers and full-back for the trip to Rome, and Italy are a big price at 9/2 to upset the Irish on the opening weekend.
The perennial also-rans, Italy have picked up the wooden spoon eight times since the inaugural Six Nations in 2000.
While Nick Mallet’s side are yet to shrug off the tag of whipping boys, but since holding New Zealand to 20 points in 2009, the Stadio Flaminio has been a tough place to travel too.
Ireland are 1/8 to beat Italy but will be without seven – possibly eight if Steven Ferris can’t recover in time – key players and while Paul O’Connell will make a return to the squad after missing the Autumn campaign through injury, the injury list has decimated Ireland’s squad.
It’s a huge blow to Bowe’s chances of winning the Six Nations top tryscorer award and the Irish winger is out to 16/1 from 10/1.
Ireland have racked up 43 tries against Italy in the Six Nations and Bowe would have been a favourite to score a try in the opening match, but it offers a chance for Luke Fitzgerald and Keith Earls (14/1 to be top Six Nations tryscorer) to add to their tallies.
England’s Chris Ashton remains steady at the top of the market and is 7/1 to end the tournament as the top tryscorer, but the French triumvirate of Vincent Clerc (14/1), Maxime Medard (20/1) and Alexiss Palisson (20/1) offer the value in the betting market.
A £25 stake on Italy beating Ireland would return £137.50. New customers can sign up here for a free Six Nations bet worth £25.