Can Garbisi’s return be the missing piece of the jigsaw for Italy?

Paolo Garbisi kicks a penalty 19/3/2022
Kieran Crowley said he needed a plan B after defeat at Twickenham and in the form of Paolo Garbisi, he has it.

Kieran Crowley said he needed a plan B after defeat at Twickenham and in the form of Paolo Garbisi, he has it.

The fly-half is back in the Italy fold following a knee injury sustained in Montpellier colours two months ago.

Having missed Italy’s two opening matches of the Championship against France and England, both of which ended in defeat, Garbisi’s return is timely as he looks to show why he can be the missing piece in the jigsaw.


Italy have struggled with the boot in both of their opening defeats, with all facets of their kicking game not quite functioning as they have when Garbisi was in the side.

That is probably most obvious with their exit, something that has forced them to either play when it is not on (which has led to opposition turning the ball over) or kicks being under serious pressure (as seen by Thibaud Flament’s charge down try in Round 1).

Garbisi could easily solve one of their biggest issues quickly, with his kicking and general decision-making up there with the best in Europe.

It would also give them an extra kicking option, as Tommaso Allan and Stephen Varney have been taking on the bulk of that responsibility to date.

Garbisi can take on the touch-finding and goal-kicking if required, although that is dependent on where he will slot back into the Azzurri team.


Garbisi has played 11 of his 14 matches with Montpellier this season at inside centre, meaning that perhaps one of Crowley’s biggest headaches of having to take out one of his stars, Allan, out for Garbisi could be avoided.

He has yet to play outside Allan yet but Italian midfield of Allan, Garbisi and either Juan Ignacio Brex or Tommaso Menoncello is certainly exciting.

That would allow the pair to share responsibility and complement each other, with both Allan and Garbisi boasting qualities the other does not.

Both of them being on the field together makes sense in practice but whether Crowley sees his superstar as an inside centre, or a fly-half with Allan coming on, is a totally different question.


Italy have struggled with go-forward ball to date, often forcing them onto the back foot and either trying to play their way out of trouble to varying degree of success or kicking the ball back to the opposition.

It was what Crowley was most frustrated about following the 31-14 defeat to England and what he meant about finding that plan B.

He said: “You cannot play if you don’t get to the gain line and front foot ball and we could not get that.

“They defended well and then we were getting slow ball.

“So we need to have a plan ‘B’ and we need to come up with a little more accurate plan ‘B’.”

Garbisi could be exactly what he is talking about, injecting a bit of magic into the midfield and opening up spaces for some of the array of impressive ball carriers Italy have, including Sebastian Negri, Jake Polledri and co.

That in turn can allow Garbisi and another of Italy’s young stars, Ange Capuozzo, to unlock defences and really cause problems.

Garbisi fits perfectly into the current fearless Italy mould of playing from everywhere, and he will definitely add to Italy’s threat with ball in hand.


Garbisi being back adds a lot to Italy’s game and he will surely come straight back into the starting XV. The question is where and who for?

Only Crowley knows the answers to those questions, and it will be interesting to see if he will come back into the side at fly-half, a position he has started in just twice this season, or whether he comes in for Luca Morisi at inside centre and Allan keeps his spot.

There are many questions Crowley will have to answer but with Garbisi’s return, Italy’s exciting backline may just have been handed its missing piece.