Pierre Schoeman is aware Scotland will have to deal with Italy’s passion and physicality if they are to triumph in Rome this weekend.
The Scots head to Stadio Olimpico on Saturday looking to bounce back from consecutive defeats against Wales and France in the Guinness Six Nations.
While Italy – as is so often the case – are viewed as the weakest team in the tournament, Schoeman is adamant they will provide stiff resistance.
“The set-piece battle is going to be massive,” the Scotland and Edinburgh prop said.
“We all know the first scrum will be key for them. When they are playing at home you don’t want to give the Italians an advantage from the first set-piece and allow them to get their tails up.
“We know that’s coming. But also they put in some big shots at the breakdown, so we’ll have to be physical because their pack will come hard. So it’s a fine balance with territory and the initial drive.”
Schoeman knows Italy will view Saturday’s game as their best chance to pick up a victory as the two nations play for the inaugural Cuttitta Cup, unveiled in honour of former Italy captain and Scotland scrum coach Massimo Cuttitta who died last year.
“Especially in Rome,” Schoeman said. “It’s home for them and all their fans are going to be buzzing for them.
“It’s going to be a passionate weekend. We all know that with the cup we are playing for, they’re going to be passionate and emotional.
“They’ll try to come for us at set-pieces. That’s one thing we took out of the France game, that every set-piece will be massively important.
“We can respond by learning from the France game; that’s the growth we need for Italy, to work to our strengths but also to fix those individual and collective lapses.
“We need to bounce back. It’s easy fixes. They’re not major concerns – it’s things like confidence, which are small fixes we will work on this week.”
Schoeman, who made his Scotland debut last autumn, is enjoying his first taste of the Six Nations.
“It’s really a massive honour,” he said. “Since I came into the Scotland set-up it’s been great to play in front of such passionate fans.
“All eyes across the globe are on the Six Nations. There’s no easy test, and we’ve seen that in this tournament.
“Every time you get selected for the squad it’s a massive responsibility, but it’s also a massive honour.
“I’m proud so I want to give it my all, both in training and the game. I’m very pleased. It’s a massive achievement for myself and for my family.”