Rugby-Rapid Venditti epitomises new Italy

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By Toby Davis LONDON, Sept 5 (Reuters) - With pace and power in abundance, Giovanbattista Venditti can get the crowd on their feet and he is part of a new group of Italian players who are embracing a more expansive game. At 1.88 metres of solid muscle, the winger is hard to stop when he gets up a head of steam -- which is unsurprising given he is the son of a former heavyweight boxer. The 25-year-old certainly has plenty of punch when it comes to driving through tackles and gaining territory. He made his international debut against France in the 2012 Six Nations and scored his first international try in his second cap against England. While not prolific -- he has scored 25 points in his 28 caps for his country -- he maintains a keen eye for the tryline as he showed when he bundled the ball over from close range against Wales in their final game of this year's Six Nations. Italian wingers were traditionally seen and not heard, but current coach Jacques Brunel has sought to encourage his players to move the ball around with more freedom. A new generation of backs has emerged such as fellow wing Leonardo Sarto and centre Luca Morisi, who are showing signs that there is more to Italian rugby than the dogged defence that characterised the national team for so long. Venditti caught the eye of Newcastle Falcons in England's Premiership, who snapped him up on a two-year deal from Italian PRO12 outfit Zebre. It is a move that Newcastle's director of rugby Dean Richards sees paying dividends. "Giamba is a strong player with quick feet and good hands who likes to attack the space," he said. "He is also strong in contact and is going to give us plenty of options next season, with his ability to play both centre and wing." Yet Italy's chances of success in the World Cup are limited. Their Six Nations results, especially a 61-20 defeat by Wales, showed signs of some serious issues. They also play in Pool D alongside Ireland and France with only the top two sides set to qualify for the knockout rounds. It is unsurprising, therefore, that Venditti feels it will be a "dream come true" simply to be at the tournament. "A year ago I would not have imagined having this occasion... I will give everything to win a place in the squad." (Reporting by Toby Davis,; editing by Pritha Sarkar)