Italy full-back Roland De Marigny has claimed this season's RBS 6 Nations is the closest yet since the six-team format was introduced in 2000.
Ireland lead the table alongside defending champions France and Wales, with all three enjoying 100 per cent starts to the tournament, but De Marigny thinks the gap in quality between top and bottom is much closer this season.
"Personally, I think this year's tournament is pretty even, with six strong teams which the difference between is minimal," he said.
"To be honest, the Italian weakness is more mental than physical or tactical and if we can overcome our nerves, I believe we can upset more than one team."
The 29-year-old is particularly looking forward to the clash with Scotland after being given the all-clear to play by the Italian medical staff as injuries picked up against Wales threatened to rule him out.
"After the Wales game, my left knee and ankle were swollen and I could barely walk but after a few days' rest the medical staff gave me the OK to return to training," he said.
De Marigny is also delighted he will retain his job as goalkicker against the Scots.
"If I play from the start, I will be the first-choice kicker," he added.
"It makes me very proud, I'm always focused when I'm kicking in an important match and my aim is kick as many points as possible, which could prove vital at the end of the game."
Peter O'Mahony was named man of the match against England last month
21 April 2017, 7:22pm
Peter O'Mahony's performance in the RBS 6 Nations finale for Ireland against England was crucial to his selection for the British & Irish Lions on Wednesday, Ireland and Lions defence coach Andy Farrell has revealed.