MARSEILLE, France (AFP) - Italy coach Conor O'Shea spoke of his heartbreak and frustration as Italy set a new record of 15 straight Six Nations defeats in a 34-17 reverse against France on Friday (Feb 23).
As so often before, Italy were competitive for an hour and trailed only 14-10 at that point. But the gaps opened up, tackles were missed and France romped home for an ultimately comfortable victory.
"I'm destroyed right now because I hate losing - I'm competitive like Sergio (Parisse, Italy's captain)," said Irishman O'Shea, whose side have now won only once in their last 16 matches in all competitions - and that against Fiji.
"This is a long, hard road, we have to improve and we will turn the corner. You come here preparing to win but it will take a few days to digest. We will grow and grow and grow and we will have the last laugh.
"We never said we would win Grand Slams but we are working hard to make us a strong rugby country."
Parisse insisted Italy running out of steam was not a fitness issue.
"It's not a physical problem. If you look at the first two matches (heavy defeats against England and Ireland) we had catastrophic starts," said the 34-year-old. "This time we did well for 50-60 minutes.
"We conceded points not because of a physical dip but because we made mistakes and those mistakes can happen at any time.
"At 14-10 we had a great break by Seb Negri who went 50 metres but then we turned over the ball.
"If, in this moment, we went to the corner and got a drive on, that can change everything."
He added: "For sure in the past there were moments where mentally the team didn't believe 100 per cent and wilted at the first sign of difficulty, but that's not the case with this team."
O'Shea insisted his team would come good but said they have no other option than to see their flaws exposed in the goldfish bowl of top level competition.
"It's not possible to get experience without playing," said the former Harlequins coach. "The only way to learn is on the pitch, under pressure, in difficulty.
"The most important thing is we have to learn after every match."