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Mallett broke new ground in last year’s RBS 6 Nations when he masterminded a first ever Championship defeat of France in Rome and signed off his reign after the World Cup.
That gave Brunel limited time to assess and prepare his squad before the 2012 RBS 6 Nations but the former Perpignancoach’s attacking philosophy was clear in their opening matches against France and England.
Neither of those brought a repeat of last year’s sensational victory but there were enough positive signs in both their performances for Bortolami to be convinced that Brunel has the Azzurri on the right path.
“Jacques is doing very well because it’s not easy for a new coach to come in just before the Six Nations,” he said.
“He has got his views across to the group and the way we have been playing shows that we want to play more rugby.
“We want to keep hold of the ball more, even if the conditions weren’t great in Rome. We need to find that balance and the composure, that was what England did well.
“If Jacques can instill that composure then we will start getting the results.
“What’s good is that he has brought in some new faces alongside some of the experienced guys, and they have performed well. There is a lot of talent coming through so it’s an exciting time.
“We know the next two away games won’t be easy, but we will try to make it as tough as possible for Ireland and Wales.”
It doesn’t get any easier for Brunel or Bortolami when Italy travel to Dublin in the third round of fixtures seeking their maiden Championship defeat of Ireland.
That would be on a par with last year’s upset of Les Bleus but Bortolami is under no illusions about the scale of their task.
And the 31-year-old – who is closing in a 100 caps for the Azzurri – admits they will have to take their chances if they are to have any hope of picking up their first win of this year’s Championship.
“The game against Ireland will be very tough,” he said. “They have been playing some good rugby and could have won the game against Wales.
“I am not expecting an easy game against them but we have to back up our performance against England.
“We couldn’t take our chances in the England game, we lost the game in the second half by letting them play in the right areas of the pitch.
“We need to improve our game management because they had a 20-minute spell where they were able to put us under real pressure and it cost us the game.
“There is some frustration because we know it was a chance to beat them. It’s a mixed feeling because the result slipped away from us, but we are at the start of a new journey with some new players, so we can’t be too disappointed.”