There is a real sense of excitement in the Scotland camp, fuelled by the messages this week that there has been a significant gap between Scotland’s performances, and their potential so far in this championship.

Against Wales in Cardiff they were excellent for 42 minutes before downing tools, against France they went into their shells during the second period and, last time out in the Calcutta Cup, they had a dreadful opening quarter before giving themselves a shake and producing what was needed to win with a bit to spare.

The fallow week will have helped and most of the squad will be fully charged up and ready to get back to action. Rome has been a happy hunting ground for Scotland in recent years.

It’s a favoured destination for the travelling support too – and it’s a sell-out for the first time since 2016, so it’s clear that the Stadio Olympico expects.

Looking at the Scotland team selected by Gregor Townsend, the stand-out decision is to pick George Horne at scrum-half for the first time since the 2019 Rugby World Cup win over Russia.

It’s a huge opportunity for him, and Ali Price who joins the squad on the bench, to step up. George has done well maintaining momentum off the bench in the matches he’s been involved in. He has a huge energy to him, his fitness and speed between rucks are real assets.

READ MORE: Monty Ioane excited for Duhan van der Merwe 'opportunity' in Italy vs Scotland

Starting test matches is different to coming off the bench, and I expect George to temper the natural excitement at being unleashed from the first whistle, to deliver what is needed for Scotland to start the match well.

Scotland will have analysed Italy’s matches under new coach Gonzalo Quesada and built a clear strategy to capitalise on any areas that they have identified opportunities.

It is the role of the halfbacks to execute and guide the team into the right areas for this to happen and George will be central to the exits and organisation defensively, and for driving high tempo when Scotland are in the strike zone.

While leaving Ben White out is a tough call, traveling back to your club during fallow weeks is hard. I remember it from my time at Gloucester.

For Ben, travelling back to Toulon could take eight or nine hours each way, then when you add in match time for the club on fallow weeks and it all adds up.

I saw him on arrival in Rome yesterday and he was gutted not to be involved, but he has an opportunity to recharge and put himself in position to be selected for Dublin.

Looking at the hosts, this is a good Italy side who were a calamitous penalty away from a win in France last time out.

They have scored some tremendous tries, and there is a belief that they are teetering on the edge of a win that would spark the belief and confidence required to kick on.

They have game breakers in the shape of hot-stepper Ange Capuozzo, bulldozer Tommaso Menoncello and jackal-extraordinaire, captain Michele Lamaro, all of whom must be kept quiet.

The Azzurri will undoubtedly enjoy purple patches during the 80 minutes but, as always when away from home, maintaining discipline is crucial.

The Italians are so passionate, their anthem in Rome is spine-tingling, and a crowd of 70,000 will thrive if Italy can start well and get themselves into the game.

All that said, I think Scotland will have too much cohesion, quality and experience for the hosts to handle.