John Mulvihill says honesty has been the best policy for Cardiff Blues, as they look to bounce back from last week’s defeat to Connacht when they welcome Benetton Rugby to the Welsh capital on Sunday (KO 5.15pm).
Wales' Capital Region have made five changes as they host their Conference B rivals at the Arms Park, looking to get back on track after a disappointing result in Galway last weekend. Wales squad members Hallam Amos and Seb Davies are both included in the starting XV, after being released from international duty for the weekend.
In the reverse fixture earlier this season, Jason Harries' try at the death sealed a dramatic and memorable Cardiff Blues victory at Stadio Monigo.
Mulvihill says the problems from last week have been addressed and the team are itching to prove a point on Sunday.
“It’s always good to get your internationals back for a period during the Six Nations and we’ve been lucky enough to have them training this week in between their international commitments," said the head coach.
“It’s great for us and it gives us just a little bit more quality across the board.
“We had a fairly brutal review on Monday and there was a lot of honesty in there. We need to get back to being the best versions of ourselves.
“That means that we need to use the ball better than we did last weekend. Our set piece and scrum has been excellent but our line-out needs to set up this week as well.
“If we get our attacking shape and mindset right this week and get good quality possession from our line-outs, then I’m sure we’ll put ourselves in a good position to win the game this week.
“Honesty has been the best way to go when dealing with last weekend. No player goes out there to make errors or mistakes, but collectively as a group we didn’t fight hard enough through the errors we made.
“At times the errors were that high that we failed to stay in the game.
“You need to acknowledge that before you move on. The boys were honest about it, were unhappy about it, knew it wasn’t good enough but we’ll be better for it this week.
“Having 29 points against you without troubling the scoreboard really hurts.
"The boys love it here and love to play in front of the crowd. We’ve got the best supporters in the PRO14 and they’ll be disappointed with last week but we want to put the smiles back on their faces this week.
“They’ll come here with a big, physical pack and they’ve also got some really good, electric outside backs.
“They have a really smart short-kicking game and their wings will be involved in the pick-and-gos around the rucks and take a lot of balls from inside the 10.
“Our defenders will need to keep working and the Italians always have big forwards so they’ll try to get an ascendancy there as well.
“If we can keep a tempo to the game, then that will be key to our success.”
With Regional Clubs Day being held on Sunday, the fixture will also be an opportunity to celebrate the grassroots game in the Cardiff Blues region.
The inaugural Clubs Lunch in the Six Nations marquee will be held before the match, with representatives from more than 50 clubs across the Cardiff Blues region attended the event hosted by Rick O’Shea to strengthen links and celebrate the clubs’ own unique achievements.
Junior teams from across the region will also be in attendance while the Cardiff Blues players will be donning the socks of their home clubs for the match.
“The clubs obviously play a big part and all the boys playing this weekend will be wearing their club socks, and some of the stories I’ve heard this week about where the boys have come from have been fantastic," added Mulvihill.
“The boys are immensely proud to get the opportunity to represent their clubs this weekend and we’re really looking forward to it.
“It’s going to be great to see representatives from the clubs here and a lot of the kids who play for those clubs being here watching their heroes run around in their club colours.
“We’ve already had a lot of kids around training this week who have attended the rugby camps at the Arms Park during half term.
“It’s been great to see how excited they are when they boys have been on the field training and I hope we can put a good performance on for them on Sunday.”