Italy captain Sergio Parisse believes Fabio Ongaro will go out with a bang on his curtain call from international rugby in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash with Scotland in Rome.
The Azzurri take on Andy Robinson’s men at the Stadio Olimpico with both teams on the back of four straight defeats looking to avoid the dubious honour of winning the wooden spoon.
The 34-year-old makes his 81st appearance for Italy as a replacement for Leonardo Ghiraldini after the hooker was ruled out with a foot injury, though the Aironi man is yet to play in this season’s RBS 6 Nations.
It is a risky inclusion from Jacques Brunel but Parisse is confident Italy’s head coach is right to place his faith in the veteran’s hands.
“Tomorrow is Fabio Ongaro's last match for the national team,” said Parisse. “It will be a big loss but I'm confident Fabio will give his maximum until physically he can't any more and then Tommaso D'Apice will come on.
“It's a special moment for him but also for us because as well as a team-mate he's a friend and he's given a lot to this team.
“He's a vital player, he's one of the best hookers in Europe in my opinion.”
Italy lost 24-3 to Wales in Cardiff last weekend while Scotland succumbed 32-14 to Ireland after an encouraging first-half performance at the Aviva Stadium.
And with both sides looking to end their campaign on a high, Parisse believes the battle will be won at the line-out.
“Our line-out wasn't very good against Wales. We have worked hard on it to find options that will allow us to keep our ball,” he added.
“Scotland have a great line-out, they have agile jumpers and they're very mobile.
“Defensively we'll try to put them under pressure but the main thing is to hold onto our ball.
“Throughout the Six Nations our line-out defence has been quite good but on our ball we've not performed very well and that will be the key.”