Finally the World Cup is upon us. While not the most exciting match of the round, Australia vs Italy will be an interesting start for our RWC viewing. The Wallabies will be looking to kick off their campaign with a polished performance and a stable scrum. Can the Wallabies deliver? Or will the men in gold fumble their way through a sloppy game and save their best for Ireland?

How the two teams are travelling:
The Wallabies are flying high at the moment after back to back wins over the Springboks and the All Blacks. The earlier game was a rare win on South African soil while our last game clinched the Tri-Nations trophy; a piece of silverware that the Wallabies havenít held in 10 years. We are in pretty good form and there is plenty of room for improvement. Another big plus for the Wallabies has been the successful returns from injury of a number of key players, including Berrick Barnes and Drew Mitchell, in the Australian Barbarians clash with Canada a few weeks ago.

Italy are doing what Italy have always done- toiling away quietly. While they canít boast the quality of success the Wallabies can, the Azzurri had an excellent Six Nations campaign with a rare win over France in Rome as a particular highlight. They also had a very narrow loss to Ireland (2 points). The team definitely seems on a slow but steady upward trend and will push hard to make it out of our pool. The Italians have the fortune of being a bit of a thorn in the side of both the Wallabies and Ireland, never scoring victories but definitely making it easy on either team.

How they will win it:
For Italy the key words are disruption and perseverance. Donít let the Wallabies find their groove. There havenít been a lot of Italy v Australia games on neutral soil and Italy will have to treat these Kiwi venues as they would any ground in Italy. Keep the defence solid and frustrate the likes of Quade Cooper into making silly 50/50 (or worse) passes. Milk ensuing scrums for penalties and keep the scoreboard ticking over. This is a pretty familiar story. Itís something Italy have done, or at least tried to do, every time weíve met for the last few years. Yet each time it has failed after coming so dangerously close at the 60 minute mark. This is where the perseverance comes in. Italy have neither the fitness nor the depth on the bench that the Wallabies possess and the final quarter is where they often give the game away. This is where Italy need to change the script a bit. They canít just expect to kick away possession and have their tiring backline contain the likes of Cooper, Beale and Ioane. They need to hold onto the ball, keep it tight, and either make some headway or at least frustrate our tiring forwards into more penalties.

The main message for the Wallabies will be discipline, discipline, discipline. The Aussies have not lost to Italy for a long time and nor should we. Outside of Castrogiovanni and Sergio Parisse you would be hard pressed to find players who would make a 30 man Australian squad. It is the Wallabies choice whether they beat Italy or not and that choice comes down to discipline. That doesnít just mean not giving away penalties, but also not being pedestrian in defence or at the breakdown, not trying to score a try off of every phase of play; just generally not treating Italy like a 3rd class opponent. This should be a good workout for our forwards, the scrum in particular, to harden us up for Ireland the following week. We donít want to see any of the mental fragility that we see far too often in the Wallabies in this tournament.

Players to watch out forÖ
The hero of Italyís big win over France was utility back Andrea Masi. The 30 year old, who has earnt over 60 caps for his country, was subsequently named Player of the Championship in the 2011 Six Nations- the first Italian to ever win the award. In a team not renowned for its try scoring ability, Masi has demonstrated he can cross the chalk when it really counts. Will Masi be the deciding factor between the Wallabies and the Azzurri on Sunday?

Le Pocock Sportif is, along with Will Genia, one of the truly irreplaceable members of the Wallabies World Cup squad. The 23 year old has earnt high praise from former All Black number 7 Josh Kronfield with the comment that Pocock had surpassed McCaw, who is widely regarded as the worldís best player, in the openside flanker stakes. Whether this is Kronfield passively applying pressure or not, Pocock is definitely one of the Wallabies who strikes fear into the hearts of opposition players. The Cockís effectiveness has been dampened somewhat by recent law variations and other teams focussing on limiting his dominance, however he will remain the shining star in the Wallaby forward pack. Expect to see him terrorising the Italians at the breakdown as well as continuing on with his let nothing through approach to defence.

The Prediction:
The Wallabies will win this one. No doubt about that. We are too good and there is too much at stake for us not to. But I think the score line will flatter the Italians a bit. This neutral territory should favour the Wallabies over the Azzurri and you would expect the Wallabies to have a commanding lead by the 60 minute mark. Deans will no doubt look to unload his bench at this point to ensure there arenít too many injuries and that the starters get a bit of rest before their six day turn around against Ireland. This sub influx will favour the Italians and they will probably plonk on some late points, but the Wallabies will still take the game by 10 points.