Italy Women star Michela Sillari says her side need to be aggressive in their attack when they take on Grand Slam-chasing England in a weeks’ time.
The lunchtime clash in Exeter on Saturday 9 March is shaping up to be a huge one, with first-placed England three points ahead of second-placed Italy in the table, both sides as yet unbeaten.
The Red Roses are three from three and in no mood to be slowed down but the Azzurre have been in excellent form themselves, registering bonus-point wins over both Scotland and Ireland.
Italian centre Sillari is advocating more attacking verve from her team and is also looking forward to catching up with some old Aylesford Bulls teammates.
She said: “I know Leanne Riley, the scrum-half, Rachael Burford, Jess Breach, Shaunagh Brown from my time at Aylesford – quite a lot of people! It’s strange playing against friends but I like it!
“I saw that there are a lot of spectators coming to Exeter so I’m really looking forward to that, it’s going to be a great match I think.
“We need to focus on defence, they have a lot of ball-carriers so we need to stop them.
“But I also think it will be really hard to win that game, so we need to play to get a bonus point maybe, we’re going to try and score four tries, we have to attack!”
Italy already have more points after three games (12) than they acquired last year (10), and it’s a measure of their improvement that Sillari is still ruing the Round Two draw with Wales.
She added: “We’re still a bit disappointed overall, because of the match against Wales, we had to win it. So we’re generally happy, but a bit sad about that one match.
“It was very strange because we got so close to scoring a try but we made too many mistakes and couldn’t score, then at the end I missed the kick so it was a bad day for me!”
Attacking is certainly what the Azzurre did a week ago against Ireland Women, as a Giada Franco double plus nine points from Sillari’s boot aided an exhilarating 29-27 victory.
The win capped an impressive turnaround from the Wales draw and underlines Italy’s recent progression, which Sillari thinks has been helped by autumn matches against South Africa and Scotland, as well as developing players like Franco.
“Our defence has been great so far I think and in the last match against Ireland we played really well in attack so we were really happy with that,” she added.
“As we couldn’t score tries against Wales to come back and fix it against Ireland was really pleasing.
“We’ve improved because we had two Test matches in November, we really needed to play together and it’s helped us play better this season.
“Then we have new players like Giada, she’s so young but a strong player and everyone knows that she’s going to play well every game – so we’re very happy about Giada Franco’s performance!”