Former Bulls and Stormers flyhalf Marius Goosen, currently an assistant coach with Italy, believes that even the Springboks would struggle with the pressure that comes with the Six Nations.

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Speaking to SuperSport.com about Italy’s lean run of wins in the tournament, the South African said any nation would find it tough.

“I understand the talking point around it, but once people play in this competition they will realise how tough it is.

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“I’ve read a few times how the Springboks may in the future be part of the Six Nations and even they will find it tough. It is not easy,” he said.

The Springboks away record against Six Nations opponents suggests that would be the case, with three wins from the last six matches played against Six Nations opponents on opposition home turf.

“If you play a once-off test against teams it is easier, or one team in a test series.

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“If you play three or four weeks consecutive against some of these teams in hostile places, then it is not that easy. I know I’m probably speaking from an Italian point of view, the Springboks might find it easier with the team they have.

“But to still play in France, then Murrayfield, then Twickenham, and then Wales week after week, it is tough.

“Add to that the pressure of trying to win the competition as well, sometimes when the Springboks come to tour here in November, they are one-off test matches, it is not a competition. They are not prepping to win a competition like the Rugby Championship or the World Cup for instance.

Although Italy have fended off calls to be replaced by Georgia in recent years, Goosen believes they need the competition to get better as a nation.

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“Italy – and there is no beating around the bush – are competing against the best teams in the world. We are probably the bottom side in the Tier 1 countries, and we are competing against the second, third, fourth best teams in the world, and it isn’t easy.

“Italy has also shown in the past few years that we are the best of the rest. Everyone talked about Georgia who wanted to take Italy’s place in the Six Nations. We played them two years ago and beat them convincingly down in Florence.”

Not only did Italy see off Georgia, but there have also been bigger scalps in recent years. Italy famously captured a 20-18 win over South Africa in 2016 when they hosted the rebuilding Springboks in Florence.

It was their first-ever over the three-time World Cup champions but were soundly beaten 49-3 in pool play in Japan in 2019.

Although Italy’s last win the Six Nations was back in 2015 over Scotland, Goosen believes Italy has a great opportunity ahead.

“It is a great opportunity for Italy as a union to keep on going, because this is what we are trying. We have to evolve the game in Italy and grow and stay competitive in the Six Nations.”

 

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