Pierre Schoeman warns of Italian passion as Scotland prop swerves Springboks Six Nations question

Pierre Schoeman has urged Scotland to stick to the gameplan and not get caught up in the emotion of the occasion when they face Italy in Rome on Saturday.

As well as the Six Nations points on offer, the sides will be playing for the Cuttitta Cup, a new trophy crafted to celebrate the life of Massimo Cuttitta who made a significant contribution to rugby in both nations.

The former prop, who died last year at the age of 54 after contracting Covid, won 70 caps for Italy in a ten-year Test career, captaining his country on 22 occasions. He then worked with Edinburgh and Glasgow Warriors before becoming Scotland’s scrum coach from 2009 to 2015.

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Schoeman expects the home team to be fired up for the occasion and knows Scotland need to hold their own in the early stages, particularly at the scrum.

Pierre Schoeman in training for Scotland at the Oriam ahead of Saturday's trip to Rome to face Italy. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

“It’s going to be a passionate weekend,” said the loosehead. “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 the set-piece as well. That's one thing we took out of the France game, that every set-piece will be massively important.”

Schoeman felt Scotland chased the game too soon against France, ceding early territory in a match they would go on to lose 36-17. The Edinburgh prop has stressed the importance of cool heads and a structured set-piece as they look to stave off the doomsday scenario of a defeat against a side who have not won a Six Nations fixture for seven years.

“We’ve spoken about how perhaps against France we as a team chased the game too early on, where if you just stick to your territory battle and the things that you’ve trained and worked for with the coaches and the leaders in the team, that will get you through,” said Schoeman. “And the tries and the points and the conversion will come.

“It’s going to be a fast and hard start. We just need to focus on us as a team and not focus too much on the opposition.

“It’s home for them and all their fans are going to be buzzing. We started well in the Six Nations but then had a couple of bumps along the road, but there are still two massive games ahead. First things first, it's the Italy game this week and everyone just has to be more on it preparation-wise.

“We can respond by learning from the France game, that's the growth we need for Italy. We need to bounce back. It's easy fixes. They're not major concerns, it's things like confidence, which are small fixes.”

Schoeman is enjoying his first experience of the Six Nations after becoming Scottish-qualified last summer and the South African-born prop offered a diplomatic answer when quizzed on rumours of the Springboks joining the championship at some point in the future, possibly at the expense of Italy.

“I haven’t given it much thought, to be quite honest,” he said. “But growing up as a kid, you always watched the Six Nations and it’s such a massive thing to watch - such a rich culture.

“I don’t know. The only thing I can say is it’s the same time zone, so maybe there would be less jetlag.”

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