Italy coach Nick Mallett went into the RBS Six Nations with a target on his back. He was expected to be relieved from his duties before the world cup. Years of trying to make his players believe they were good enough seemed wasted.
Until the victory over France last weekend; now the South African is the toast of Italy and he’s cautioning his players against being arrogant before their clash with Scotland today.
“I’m happy people enjoyed the win against France, but we can’t be arrogant,” he said.
“I’m sure Italy have improved a lot over the last two years and especially in the last six months. We only won one game by one point one week ago and no other team conceded eight tries against England as we did. We even lost two games at home. We must keep improving. We are 12th in the (world) ranking and I’m sure maybe we can reach seventh or sixth position.”
It’s the opposite case in the Scottish camp. They began the campaign full of hope and head coach Andy Robinson was even given a contract extension until the 2015 world cup. Four games later they’re bottom of the table, winless and without Max Evans, who failed a fitness test.
Robinson has called for concentration to beat Italy. “We’ve been severely punished for the mistakes that we’ve made and we’ve made a lot of errors inside our third. Going into this game it’s about an 80-minute performance.”
SCOTLAND: C Paterson (Edinburgh); N Walker (Ospreys), J Ansbro (Northampton), S Lamont (Scarlets), S Danielli (Ulster); R Jackson (Glasgow), R Lawson (Gloucester); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), G Cross (Edinburgh), R Gray (Glasgow), A Kellock (Glasgow, capt), N Hines (Leinster), J Barclay (Glasgow), K Brown (Saracens).
Replacements: S Lawson (Gloucester), E Murray (Newcastle), R Vernon (Glasgow), A Strokosch (Gloucester), M Blair (Edinburgh), D Parks (Cardiff Blues), N De Luca (Edinburgh).
ITALY: A Masi (Racing Metro); T Benvenuti (Treviso), G Canale (Clermont Auvergne), A Sgarbi (Treviso), M Bergamasco (Stade Francais); K Burton (Treviso), F Semenzato (Treviso); S Perugini (Aironi), L Ghiraldini (Treviso), M Castrogiovanni (Leicester), C Del Fava (Aironi), Q Geldenhuys (Aironi), A Zanni (Treviso), P Derbyshire (Treviso), S Parisse (Stade Francais, capt).
Replacements: C Festuccia (Racing Metro), A Lo Cicero (Racing Metro), V Bernabo (Treviso), R Barbieri (Treviso), P Canavosio (Aironi), L Orquera (Brive), L McLean (Treviso).