Monday 19 March 2018

Robinson says Scots belief key in Rome

HEAD COACH Andy Robinson insists his Scotland side have "confidence and an inner strength" ahead of Saturday's Six Nations wooden spoon decider with Italy.

For the second successive year, Robinson's team must beat the Azzurri in the final round of matches to avoid the ignominy of finishing sixth in the Six Nations tournament.

Robinson said: "Everybody's frustrated, everybody's disappointed about the losses, but also there is a confidence and an inner strength."

A first victory in Rome since 2006 is necessary for Scotland to avoid finishing bottom of the pile for the third time -- having also done so in 2004 and 2007.

After announcing one change to his starting XV -- centre Nick De Luca (inset) in for the concussed Lee Jones, with Max Evans moving to the wing -- Robinson yesterday insisted Italy are his sole focus amid suggestions he might resign.

Robinson has been in charge since 2009 and is contracted until the 2015 World Cup, but prior to his third Six Nations in charge made it clear he was determined for Scotland to shed their "unlucky losers tag".

Scotland are seeking to improve a record of 11 losses in 14 Six Nations matches under Robinson and avoid a first whitewash since 2004 and the extension of the winless run to seven matches.

The former Bath and England boss has support in many quarters and is understood to have the backing of the Scottish Rugby Union -- although Saturday's match in Rome could have a major bearing on that -- but declined the opportunity to unequivocally state he has no intention of walking away.

Asked if he will be in charge beyond the tournament, Robinson said: "I've got a contract to 2015. I just focus on this next game."

The 47-year-old has overseen a radical coaching overhaul and Saturday's match will be the last for attack coach Gregor Townsend and defensive counterpart Graham Steadman.

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