RUGBY NEWS - Italy second-row Dean Budd said his side are targeting the visit of Scotland in two weeks' time to end their record winless streak of 24 straight Six Nations matches.
New Zealand-born Budd is part of an Azzurri outfit whose negative run stretches back to February 2015 but will host Gregor Townsend's side, who are also yet to claim a victory this campaign, on February 22.
"Scotland are always with us unfortunately (in) the battle of the battlers down the bottom and it's one we're going to be targeting," Budd told AFP after Sunday's 35-22 defeat by France.
"I'm not going to go out and say Scotland are a bad team because they're bloody class. They're really a good side but playing at home is certainly an advantage for us," he added.
Budd said he wanted better weather in a fortnight's time in the Italian capital compared to the heavy rain and strong winds caused by Storm Ciara which hit during the loss to Les Bleus.
"We're hoping for a nice sunny day in Rome and we can try and throw the ball around a bit more," he said.
- Possible Parisse return -
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Reports in the French press said former captain Sergio Parisse will return to the Test scene to say his goodbye either as Scotland visit the Italian capital or as England head to the Stadio Olimpico on March 14.
"I honestly don't know if he's involved or not so I can't even give you an inside word on that. Hopefully it's a positive influence," the Whangarei-native said.
"We're starting to really work well together now. A guy with that much experience, being that much of a legend in Italian rugby is only going to add good things I hope," he added.
Budd started the fixture in the French capital as 118-Test veteran Alessandro Zanni was ruled out 10 minutes before kick-off with an injury suffered in the warm-up.
"I was almost rattled. I wasn't quite ready. When you're on the bench it's quite a relaxed thing. I was planning to be on the field about 60 minutes later but it was cool," he said.
"To be thrown in the deep end is the best way to learn to swim in my mind. So I was happy to get out there and get stuck into it," he added.
The former Auckland and Blues forward partnered 21-year-old Niccolo Cannone at second-row as the Treviso lock made just his second international appearance.
"I think he has a massive future. He's got an awesome work ethic and he really knows how to put his body on the line and tackle," Budd said.
"With a bit of time in the jersey to become more comfortable he'll be a name we will talk about in the future," he added.