Italy will be looking to hit the ground running when they face England in Parma on the second weekend of the Women’s Six Nations according to skipper Manuela Furlan.
The full-back made her return after 18 months on the sidelines at the end of 2020 and will lead the team in the new format of the competition in 2021.
Italy play host to defending champions England before a trip to Scotstoun to take on Scotland in their second match.
And with a change of format which sees each team play two pool games before a Super Saturday with classification matches against sides from the opposing pool, Furlan knows there is no room for a slow start to the Championship.
She said: “There is a different format and that will mean that you have to perform really well right away. So we will have to produce good performances immediately and for us that will mean in our first game against England.
“So we have to be ready right away. However, the feeling is good so hopefully that will just mean that we will be ready to perform well right from the start.”
Furlan led Italy to their best-ever Women’s Six Nations finish of second back in 2019, while they won one of their four matches in the Championship last year.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Italy’s domestic championship has been on hold, with the team instead meeting up for training camps in order to prepare for the Women’s Six Nations.
And while that has made things difficult for the Azzurre, Furlan believes the training work that has been done in recent weeks will pay off.
She added: “It’s very difficult because we aren’t playing at the moment in the domestic championship, so that will add to the difficulty.
“There’s a generally good feeling, we had a positive last camp where I think we worked really well. We will now be gathering again after Easter and hopefully we will continue to work in the same way and hopefully our performance will be good thanks to our preparations.”