SCOTLAND will not only aim to end their Six Nations losing run against Italy today. They will aim to do so in style, with both players and coaches having apparently decided that an entertaining, expansive game is the best way to ensure victory in Rome’s Olympic Stadium.

It was in that venue two years ago that Scotland last won a Six Nations match, and since then nine defeats have followed - seven of them under the current head coach, Vern Cotter. But, while one of those defeats was to the Italians at Murrayfield last year, Cotter’s team went on to beat the Italians home and away in their Rugby World Cup warm-up games.

The game in Turin was a close fight, won 16-12, but the Murrayfield match was a 48-7 triumph - a record for the fixture. It is the way in which the Scots cut the Italian defence open in that game, allied to the promising moments in this year’s losses to England and Wales, that appears to have convinced Cotter and his colleagues to play a more open game than has generally been attempted against Italy.

“We have a strategy to play this game, and being conservative is not going to get you what you want,” Jonathan Humphreys, the assistant coach, said yesterday. “We have to make sure we do the right thing at the right time in the right parts of the field.

“In any combat sport you’ve got to be smart at what you do. You can’t shy away from your opponent’s strengths, but you’ve got to be smart at how you deal with them.

“We feel we’ve got a strategy that we can mix in both areas, but we want to play to our strengths. We want to play a brand of rugby that we enjoy, and is profitable for us.

“We get the key moments right, then everything else will take care of itself. We believe we’re a better team than we were in the last Six Nations.”

Stuart Hogg, the full-back, acknowledged that any kind of win would be satisfying, given it would prevent that losing run going into double figures. But, like Humphreys, the Glasgow Warriors player suggested that the team will attempt to play an adventurous, running game rather than allowing the match to deteriorate into a kicking contest.

“We would just take a win,” Hogg said. “Every time we get an opportunity we need to take it against a mad, passionate Italian side who have the crowd behind them. It’s going to take a lot for us to shut them up.

“We have our game plan that we’re trying to play. It’s a game plan that the coaches believe will bring us victory and we back them 100 per cent.”

Cotter will back the players 100 per cent as well, according to Hogg, if they attempt something that is not in the game plan. “Vern very much likes boys to have a go when there are opportunities. He’ll back us to the hilt. If there are opportunities for us to take, then we have to take them. I’ll be roaming about at the back hoping that there will be a fair bit of ball in hand and some open space for me to run in.”

Hogg, who is fit again after a back strain forced him off in the first half against Wales a fortnight ago, is sure that a win over Italy could help Scotland go on to claim other victories in the tournament. “I firmly believe that a win against Italy will change the whole perspective of everything.

“We will gain massive confidence. I’m not looking too far ahead, but I still believe we can get three wins.”