The Official Online RBS 6 Nations Store is open. The store has everything you need to get behind your team during the RBS 6 Nations, plus the store is now fully stocked with a much wider range of rugby merchandise.
His nomination for IRB player of the year in 2008 showed just how highly he is thought of in the game, and while he’s rapidly approaching his 30s he’s itching for another RBS 6 Nations assault.
Italy have a familiar feel to them this year, not least because Francesco Minto is their only new addition to the squad, but under Jacques Brunel’s stewardship they showed glimpses of expanding a game that has always been based on their warrior-like forwards.
In Parisse, Martin Castrogiovanni and Andrea Lo Cicero they still have that strength but against Australia in November, and for parts against New Zealand, they impressed despite losing both matches.
But that remains the problem for Italy, turning glimpses into the real thing.
“I think since Jacques arrived and started coaching the team, the vision and the approach of the kind of rugby we are going to play has really changed,” said Parisse.
“We really enjoy to play as a team who try to keep the ball more and try and be more dangerous in attack and not just kick it away.
“We have a chance to play three times at home and we want to take it match by match.
“We start against France who were the team of Europe in November but we finished the month with a lot of confidence and we’re all looking forward to the Six Nations.
“I definitely think France are the favourites, the potential that they showed in November means they can definitely win so it’s going to be really important for us to start well against them.
“Scotland and Italy are always close but not really spectacular, they had a difficult November but at the same time with a new coach everyone will want to challenge themselves and from our point of view it’s a really difficult team to play because we are very similar.
“We go to Edinburgh and they will really want to beat us at home and we will really want to win one of our away matches.”
Having picked up one win in each of the last three competitions and having failed to avoid the bottom two since 2007 – when they reached their highest ever finish of fourth – Italy’s trip to Scotland could prove decisive.
Brunel, however, prefers to focus on taking one game at a time, claiming Italy can no longer be satisfied with the odd impressive result.
He said: “Here and there it was possible to rival some of these big teams but not over the whole match so that is what our aims are, to come and be able to have the same performance over the full match.
“And for the Six Nations the difficulty is having five matches across the same level so continuity is really the key word here.
“Italian rugby is developing and we need to see what kind of impact it is having on the public and on players.
“Today we talk about markets and the potential market for rugby is in Italy, for European rugby as well.”