Since then, Italy have suffered 14 Six Nations defeats in a row but Kirwan is confident that Italy are on the verge of a new era.
The former All Black said: "The key is faith in ourselves and trying to play.
"It is important to maintain the right tension without it becoming excessive to show our pride in being Italian."
Kirwan insisted he will not underestimate Wales, adding: "They will be trying to impose themselves physically.
"They understand that Italy have grown a lot and that they have got important players back. Everything is pointing to a great match."