Conor O’Shea believes the standard of the Guinness Six Nations has never been higher, heading into the 2019 Championship, and insists Italy are ready to challenge the best.
The Azzurri beat Georgia in November, as well as defeats to Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, and will look to get off to a winning start in the Guinness Six Nations when they travel to Scotland on the opening weekend.
O’Shea’s side pushed the Scots all the way in Rome last year, eventually going down 29-27 to a last-gasp Greig Laidlaw penalty.
And the Italy coach has expressed his view that the standard of competition has never been higher, with five teams trying to catch Grand Slam champions Ireland.
He said: “The level is higher than it was, the highest it has ever been in the Six Nations. But we are better. We have to play at our level of intensity. We want to win, not only for ourselves, but also we want a win for our fans
“We’ve won in the last 18 months against Japan and Fiji away and Georgia, but we want to get to the highest level.
“It’s a very tough challenge, but it’s a challenge. If we focus on ourselves, and focus on the level of display that we want, as we did against Australia, against Scotland in the last Championship, we are competitive, so we will see.”