The Scots have suffered two painful defeats to Ireland and England as their miserable RBS 6 Nations campaign got off to the worst possible start. Theirmeeting with the victory-less Azzurri at the Stadio Olimpico could now settle who takes home the wooden spoon, but under-fire Johnson concedes not even a morale-boosting triumph in the Eternal City will guarantee that his side have turned the corner. He said: “There is no doubt, we would take a win. It would be good for the guys but it won’t be the end of all our ills either. I keep talking about it, we want consistency in this team. We could win ugly and everyone would feel good about themselves. But that is only a temporary measure. That’s one of my issues with Scottish rugby. We seem to settle for these little peaks and then the troughs. Yes, a win would be great for morale, but let’s not delude ourselves, we have to do it more often.”
However Italy captain Sergio Parisse insists he will not let his record-breaking run-out for the Azzurri distract him from beating Scotland. The 30-year-old flanker and team-mate Martin Castrogiovanni will both win their 104th caps at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, eclipsing the previous Italian record held by Andrea Lo Cicero.
“The 104 caps is an important milestone but I am putting that to one side. It is clear in my head right now that all I’m thinking about is Scotland and the win.”
ITALY: L McLean (Treviso); A Esposito (Treviso), M Campagnaro (Treviso), G Garcia (Zebre), L Sarto (Zebre); T Allan (Perpignan), E Gori (Treviso); A De Marchi (Treviso), L Ghiraldini (Treviso), M Castrogiovanni (Toulon), Q Geldenhuys (Zebre), J Furno (Biarritz), A Zanni (Treviso), R Barbieri (Treviso), S Parisse (Stade Francais, capt).
Replacements: D Giazzon (Zebre), M Aguero (Zebre), L Cittadini (Treviso), M Bortolami (Zebre), P Derbyshire (Treviso), T Botes (Treviso), L Orquera (Zebre), T Iannone (Zebre).
SCOTLAND: S Hogg (Glasgow); T Seymour (Glasgow), A Dunbar (Glasgow), M Scott (Edinburgh), S Lamont (Glasgow); D Weir (Glasgow), G Laidlaw (Edinburgh, capt); R Grant (Glasgow), S Lawson (Newcastle), M Low (Glasgow), R Gray (Castres), J Hamilton (Montpellier), R Wilson (Glasgow), C Fusaro (Glasgow), J Beattie (Montpellier).
Replacements: R Ford (Edinburgh), A Dickinson (Edinburgh), G Cross (Edinburgh), T Swinson (Glasgow), D Denton (Edinburgh), C Cusiter (Glasgow), D Taylor (Saracens), M Evans (Castres).
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia).