Italian fly-half Rima Wakarua has spoken of the "quality jump" his side need to make if they are to compete with the best in the RBS 6 Nations.
But the New Zealand-born player is confident that the Azzurri are close to catching up.
"We showed great willingness and passion against the French," said Wakarua of their last game, which they lost 25-0.
"But we must now make the famous quality jump to be at the same level as the other teams. There is another step to make but we can do it.
"Personally I think we are nearly there - it is just a matter of time."
And Wakarua responded to claims that his passing has been taking the pace out of the Italian backline by pronouncing himself satisfied with his performances and pointing out the difficulties of countering the speed of England and France's backrow forwards.
"I'm satisfied about my game up to now," he told an Italian website. "You can't give pace to the three-quarters on your own, especially when your opponents, such as England and France, are very quick around the sides of the scrum.
"I can't do it all alone. Rugby is a game you play all together and most of the opportunities will be created by the whole team, not on an individual level.
"But what's important is what's coming now against the Scots (in their next game) and I'm ready for it, believe me."
England flanker James Haskell insists he will be pushing as hard as possible to be back from a toe injury in time to make his case for a spot in Eddie Jones' side looking to defend their RBS 6 Nations title next year.