Parisse con­fi­dent ‘strong’ Scots team will be beaten

The Herald - Herald Sport - - SIX NATIONS - ANDY NEW­PORT

ITALY skip­per Ser­gio Parisse in­sists he is not ar­ro­gant enough to think the Az­zurri are bet­ter than Scot­land but is con­fi­dent his side can tri­umph to­day.

Both sides go into the Sta­dio Olimpico duel look­ing for their first wins of this year’s RBS 6 Na­tions.

The hosts tri­umphed over Vern Cot­ter’s side last year in Ed­in­burgh with a last-gasp penalty try as their driven line-out bull­dozed through the fee­ble Scot­tish de­fence.

It was sweet re­venge for Scot­land’s own late, late show in Rome back in 2014, when a 79th-minute drop goal snatched vic­tory from the hosts.

Parisse says an­other tight af­fair is likely to be played out in Rome but has backed his side to edge it. He said: “It would be ar­ro­gant on my part to say we are bet­ter than Scot­land in the for­wards or in the backs.

“I think they are a re­ally strong team – but I think we are a re­ally strong team too. I’m con­fi­dent in our strengths.

“Ev­ery­one is talk­ing about this game and how both Scot­land and Italy have no vic­to­ries in their open­ing two matches, so this week­end is a cru­cial match. In the past we lost against them here in Rome with a last-minute drop­goal but last year we went to Mur­ray­field and got a try late in the match to win too.

“So you know that Scot­land-Italy matches are al­ways hard, al­ways tough to win. Maybe we have more pres­sure be­cause we are play­ing at home. We know we can lose to them but we also know we can beat them. If we play the right game we have the pos­si­bil­ity to have a good re­sult at the end.”

Az­zurri head coach Jac­ques Brunel has been forced to re­call Kelly Hai­mona to start at fly-half af­ter in­jury ruled out Carlo Canna, who earned praise af­ter his im­pres­sive shows against France and Eng­land.

But Parisse has backed Hai­mona to take his chance to shine.

“Carlo has im­proved a lot in the last two matches and has been re­ally good for the team,” he said. “Fly-half is a po­si­tion that we’ve had a lot of changes in over the last year. But I think for the fu­ture Carlo, Kelly and even Tom­maso Al­lan can prove them­selves to be the men to start in that role for Italy.

“Now it’s a chance for Kelly to show he can im­prove and be part of the team.”

UP­BEAT: Italy cap­tain Ser­gio Parisse, who will win his 117th cap to­day, is hope­ful of vic­tory over Scot­land

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