However, the team has undoubtedly improved since the World Cup, chiefly from a fitness point of view.
Since John Kirwan took over as coach, the level of fitness has certainly improved. The training and preparation are better now, because we can compete for 80 minutes without tiring too much.
But if we are now more or less at the same level of the other RBS 6 Nations teams physically, we are still a little behind in terms of technical ability, and we are certainly not as proficient as other teams when attacking.
It is hard to know what to expect from Italy, because it is a very inexperienced team. Centre Alessandro Troncon, who is injured, will certainly be missed, mainly because of his experience.
But as a stand-in captain, I think flanker Andrea De Rossi is a decent choice. I know him well, he is a good lad and a great competitor. I think he has been chosen because this is a very young team, and perhaps he has a little more experience than the others.
I don't understand why fly-half Ramiro Pez has been left out again, but that does not mean it is the wrong choice.
While this team is raw, it has plenty of enthusiasm, and we have to hope that this can compensate for the lack of experience.