Rugby: Italy wary of speedy Scots as both teams gear up for Saturday's clash at the National Stadium in Singapore

Italy's head coach Conor O'Shea arrives at the Kyoto state guesthouse to attend the Rugby World Cup Japan 2019 pool draw in Kyoto on May 10, 2017.
Italy's head coach Conor O'Shea arrives at the Kyoto state guesthouse to attend the Rugby World Cup Japan 2019 pool draw in Kyoto on May 10, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Italy's rugby coach Conor O'Shea identified the pace of the Scotland national team as their biggest threat when they face Scotland on Saturday (June 10) in the first international Test match at Singapore's new National Stadium.

Speaking to the international media at the Pan Pacific Hotel on Monday (June 5), O'Shea said: "They play at huge pace and love keeping the ball at hand and they have a very aggressive defence.

"In fact, they thrive on pace. That'll be a huge challenge for us."

Italy and Scotland have played each other 27 times before. The latter have had the upperhand in 19 matches, while the Italians have managed just eight wins against the Bravehearts.

The world No. 5 Scots defeated the 15th-ranked Azzurri 29-0 in March at Murrayfield at the Six Nations. The Italians had missed three penalty kicks and several good try-scoring chances.

Said O'Shea: "If you look at the (previous) game (against Scotland), you'll realise the number of chances we had. Those (wasted) chances took energy away from us and gave energy to the opposition.

"At times, it was easier to score than not to score, but we still managed not to. So that's the big thing, execution. If we do that, it'll help us get a little bit of pressure on the opposition."

This will be the Italians' first test match before travelling to face Fiji and Australia later this month.

The last time an international Test was held in the Republic was the 1998 Asian Rugby Championships, which also doubled as the Asian qualifiers for the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

The two-tier Championships were held at the old National Stadium and featured Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea in the Division One competition, while Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka and China vied for the Division Two crown.