HAMISH WATSON’S first memories of facing Italy are not the finest of his career.

The flanker made his international debut at Murrayfield in 2015, which was the last time Italy defeated Scotland, and with Watson also being awarded a yellow card, it was not the most glittering of debuts.

But despite that, the 28-year-old was still able to see some positives.

“It was actually an alright debut apart from that moment [of being yellow-carded] but people always remember that,” he said. “It was a long time ago and we were in a bad place during that Six Nations.

“It was my Test debut so I look back fondly on that memory, whether we lost or not. If that was my only cap then it’s not something I would look back on with much joy though.”

The Scots have performed considerably better against the Italians in the intervening years, and are on a seven-match winning streak, which means that going into the Six Nations clash on Saturday at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Gregor Townsend’s men are heavy favourites.

Add that to the fact Scotland have lost their opening two fixtures and there is considerable pressure on Watson and his team-mates. But that doesn’t faze the Edinburgh man.

“We are all under a bit of pressure but even if we had won our opening two games, we’d still be under a massive amount of pressure going to Italy,” he said.

“It’s always a game that’s tough and we know it’s a game that they sometimes target as well.

“It’s going to be a massive contest but we are all professional rugby players and it’s about how you handle that pressure. We need to go to Rome and show we can handle that pressure. This is a massive game and one where we can get ourselves back on track.”

Scotland’s last trip to Rome resulted in a tight 29-27 victory, so there will be no complacency in Townsend’s squad.

“Italy have a really good back row, they have a big pack so we will need to front up,” Watson said.

“You know if you go to Italy and you are under prepared and not up for the challenge then you will get beaten.”