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'They are a team we have difficulty with'

Jacques Brunel, the Italy head coach, will not risk underestimating Scotland tomorrow as he can still recall easily how his side lost heavily at Murrayfield 12 months ago.

Tommaso Allan, right, was a Scotland under-20 player but will start at No.10 for Italy. Picture: Getty
Tommaso Allan, right, was a Scotland under-20 player but will start at No.10 for Italy. Picture: Getty

The Scots make the journey to Rome on RBS 6 Nations duty this weekend, having suffered consecutive defeats in matches against Ireland and England, although their hosts have also lost to Wales and France in their opening fixtures.

The Scots might be considered to have lost confidence as well as championship points, though, with head coach Scott Johnson coming under increasing scrutiny. He was pilloried for his decisions during the Calcutta Cup defeat by England in the last round of matches.

Brunel - who has made three changes to his side for the Stadio Olimpico encounter and has named Tommy Allan, the former Scotland under-20 fly-half, at No.10 - gave a passable impression of a man who has paid little attention to all that, though. Instead, the Italy coach cast his mind back to last year's 34-10 defeat by the Scots to illustrate that he is taking no chances.

"Last year we conceded 34 points at Murrayfield, that's something we have to take into consideration," said Brunel, who has brought Roberto Barbieri, Alessandro Zanni and Angelo Esposito into his side. "Recent results haven't been going Scotland's way, but they're one of the teams we seem to have most difficulty with. They have character and always play with determination."

The Italians will be afforded a sense of prestige tomorrow, with stalwarts Martin Castrogiovanni and Sergio Parisse winning their 104th caps to eclipse the previous Italian record held by Andrea Lo Cicero.

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