It has been a disappointing campaign. If you look at all the performances, we weren’t consistent enough. I think we showed really good things at times with the young blood coming through, but I think we really let ourselves down in terms of getting physically dominated which is never nice.
We made a lot of our own errors which was frustrating. We really struggled to get momentum. We went through a few phases like against Scotland where we started well, but when we needed to be clinical again, we let ourselves down by dropping the ball or getting turned over, which is not good enough. Our discipline throughout the campaign also wasn’t good.
Look, I do think we performed well against England and at times in the Wales game, we were really good, but when you look over the course of the Six Nations, we did really let ourselves down. It is time for us to all look in the mirror and take responsibility, work on what didn’t go so well and regroup.
We can’t hide how disappointed we are, but if you want to be really positive, we do have a lot of young players who are inexperienced and this would have been a huge learning curve for those players. That ‘inexperience’ is something we are not using as an excuse because we want them to learn from playing some of the best teams in the world.
Sometimes you have to learn the hard way. Like in life, sometimes the best lessons are the hardest.
People may disagree, but I still think we have got a really young group of players who have shown what they can do and I still believe that this journey we are on is one to be excited about. I know it is hard to believe that after looking at all of our results, but we have got to keep positive and not worry too much about what other people are saying and try and focus on what we can control.
"I saw Sam Warburton's interview and he has got his own opinions.— Talking Rugby Union (@TalkRugbyUnion) February 12, 2021
"Maybe we play Georgia, but we beat Georgia. We've shown that in the past. I think we fully merit a place in the Six Nations." ????
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We know there is that noise about us and rightly so. After a campaign like that, there is always going to be a lot of noise about ‘Why is Italy still in the Six Nations?’ This is a team which is shipping a lot of points and haven’t won a game since 2015?’
In my last column, we talked about who are you going to replace Italy with and I stand by what I said because I do think we merit being in the Six Nations. We know we are under pressure, but we have to keep believing in what we are doing, the journey that we are on, and not dwell too much on what has happened and look forward.
I know it is hard to keep positive and it isn't easy at times, but it is my job as one of the more experienced guys in the group to take these youngsters along and be a helping hand and a shoulder to lean on. It is up to me and a few others to keep these guys going. We just have to stay together, stay united and show people why we deserve to be in the Six Nations.
It is great to be back with all the boys here in Treviso and there is a positive energy within the group. We are very excited by the challenge this weekend and we know there is a lot to go for.
We have got a massive opportunity. I think if we win against Agen, we will be in a quarter-final and we will be the first Italian team to ever make a quarter-final in Europe so that is something huge to play for and we are really optimistic about our chances. I think you have to be because it is finals footy and anything can happen!
It has been a very disappointing season in terms of domestic results in the Pro14. We don’t want to look at all the excuses that the national team boys have been away and how many injuries we have had. We have got to, like with Italy, face the critics, use them as a positive and we have got a massive opportunity on Saturday.
The Rainbow Cup is also something to look forward too so we just have to keep building and hopefully a win at the weekend can be a platform for us.
I was very lucky to have played with him and he became one of my best friends here. He is a legend both on and off the field. He is a great guy and what a journey he has been on.
I think we all know his story and he is a real role model for all of us. We can really all look up to him, the way that he faced his challenge and remained humble. He was, of course, a brilliant player too. He was top quality and I was very lucky, grateful and blessed to share a field with him and create so many memories like we did both on and off the field!
I wish him all the best with his new chapter going forward. Whatever path he goes down next, he will be successful because Ian McKinley is a legend.
Seb was talking to TRU's Chris Heal