Mitchell encouraged ahead of Italy clash


United States head coach John Mitchell said his side have been "on the money" in the build-up to Saturday's Test as they prepare to try and keep Conor O'Shea waiting for a first victory as Italy head coach.

The Eagles were narrowly beaten by Brazil and Uruguay in their final two matches of the inaugural Americas Rugby Championship (ARC), but they were not at full strength.

Italy head to the Avaya Stadium in San Jose this weekend on the back of a 30-24 defeat to Argentina last weekend in O'Shea's first game since replacing Jacques Brunel.

And Mitchell is relishing the opportunity for his players to pit their wits against the Azzurri.

He said: "We've taken a look at Italy in the 6 Nations and the match against Argentina. O'Shea's in a very similar circumstance to ourselves; he's already been saying that he believes he can create an exceptional Italian side if he can get them fit.

"He will be trying to grow and develop the group through similar challenges. They have good talent and stayed in the contest at the weekend for a long time, and fought their way back into it at the end.

"This week has been primarily focused on the preparation for Italy. Our sessions are very specific and timings this week have been pretty well on the money."

Scrum-half Nate Augspurger will make his Eagles debut, while captain Todd Clever will equal Mike McDonald's all-time record of 67 caps.

O'Shea has replaced injured flanker Abraham Steyn with Robert Barbieri in the only change to the side that was beaten by the Pumas.