Italy centre Andrea Masi has delivered a warning to France ahead of tomorrow’s RBS 6 Nations clash between the countries in Rome.
The Azzurri, fresh from beating Scotland at Murrayfield last time out, are chasing a third successive Six Nations home win at Les Bleus’ expense.
“The first time (France) lost, in 2011, they thought it was just one of those things, but the second time gave them real doubts,” Wasps back Masi said.
“A third time will show them that they have to change their attitude towards Italian rugby.
“But none of us would pretend that we are favourites for the game on Sunday. We may have earned a little bit of respect from France, but our objective is still to earn it for good.”
Masi missed the win against Scotland, but he is now back in an Azzurri line-up determined to claim another notable Six Nations victory.
There are also call-ups for wing Leonardo Sarto and flanker Samuela Vunisa, while captain Sergio Parisse wins an Italian record 112th cap, moving ahead of second-row forward Marco Bortolami.
“Winning is important because it gives you self-belief,” Masi added.
“It helps you to raise your concentration levels and drives you to train better.”
For his part, France head coach Philippe Saint-Andre has made eight changes from the side beaten by Wales last time out, calling up the likes of centre Gael Fickou, scrum-half Sebastien Tillous-Borde and prop Nicolas Mas.
But the under-pressure coach insists he retains confidence in his squad.
“As a coach, but also as a lover of rugby, I expect a lot more from this team,” Saint-Andre told the Six Nations website.
“They need to take the initiative. But honestly, if we didn’t believe in them, we’d have changed lots of players.
“On Sunday in Italy I expect a reaction because we have a squad with values and they will show it on Sunday.”