Italy utility back Mirco Bergamasco has described Ireland's centre pairing of Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy as "one of the best in the world".
Italy coach Pierre Berbizier has chosen to play Bergamasco, who is normally a full-back or wing, in the centre for Saturday's opening RBS 6 Nations game at Lansdowne Road.
The 22-year-old will partner Gonzalo Canale in the midfield, with Christian Stoica at full-back, and he knows they face a massive challenge in trying to contain Ireland's world-class pairing.
"I'm so excited about Saturday's game when me and Gonzalo are going to be up against one of the best centre partnerships in the world," Bergamasco said.
O'Driscoll and D'Arcy have been in outstanding form for their province Leinster in recent weeks, and Bergamasco is aware they hold an advantage having played together so many times for both club and country.
"They are both paying well with Leinster at the moment having recovered from injuries, and they are capable of causing us many problems on the pitch," Bergamasco said.
But despite the respect Bergamasco has for his much-vaunted opponents, the combative three-quarter has no intention of showing them too much respect come Saturday.
"Personally I am planning on challenging D'Arcy from the outset. He is a player I have always admired, because he is outstanding with the ball in hand. He never gives up and keeps attacking his opponents all the time," he added.
"It's going to be tough, but we have to stop them because otherwise they will turn the game in Ireland's direction."
And general manager Marco Bollesan insists Italy will go straight for the jugular when they take on Ireland.
"Some people will be surprised at the XV we have picked to face Ireland on Saturday, but I'm not," he said.
"The 30 players we have in our squad are all at a similar level so I'm sure this is a good team.
"We have no fear and we will try to create havoc with their tactics. We are going to try to strike right to the heart of their defensive set-up."
The Azzurri may be heavy underdogs but Bollesan has not given up hope of seeing his side snatch an unlikely victory.
"We will see what happens," he added. "If they win, it doesn't matter. We will go out to play a good game of rugby."
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.