Goosen, who is Franco Smith’s assistant with Italy, defended his team’s record in the competition after talk earlier this year whether Italy should be replaced by Georgia in the competition, given their poor showing over the past few years.
But Goosen believes while Italy have underperformed, they need the Six Nations to develop rugby in the nation, and believes the pressure of the competition is unique.
“There is always pressure on us. Since I’ve been involved in the national team and been involved in Italy, there has always been that pressure. People don’t always realise what this competition is like. Italy - and there is no beating around the bush - are competing against the best teams in the world. We are probably the bottom side in the Tier 1 countries, and we are competing against the second, third, fourth best teams in the world, and it isn’t easy,” Goosen told supersport.com
“Italy has also shown in the past few years that we are the best of the rest. Everyone talked about Georgia who wanted to take Italy’s place in the Six Nations. We played them two years ago and beat them convincingly down in Florence.
“I understand the talking point around it, but once people play in this competition they will realise how tough it is. I’ve read a few times how the Springboks may in the future be part of the Six Nations and even they will find it tough. It is not easy.
“It is a great opportunity for Italy as a union to keep on going, because this is what we are trying. We have to evolve the game in Italy and grow and stay competitive in the Six Nations.”
Goosen elaborated by saying the pressure of performing in a competition, as opposed to one-off Tests in November, is very different and the Springboks would feel that. He added that while the Boks often blood younger players on these tours, once they formed part of a competition they wanted to win, the approach would be very different to an end-of-season tour.
“If you play a once-off test against teams it is easier, or one team in a test series. If you play three or four weeks consecutive against some of these teams in hostile places, then it is not that easy. I know I’m probably speaking from an Italian point of view, the Springboks might find it easier with the team they have.
“But to still play in France, then Murrayfield, then Twickenham, and then Wales week after week, it is tough. Add to that the pressure of trying to win the competition as well, sometimes when the Springboks come to tour here in November, they are one-off test matches, it is not a competition. They are not prepping to win a competition like the Rugby Championship or the World Cup for instance.
“In the Six Nations you play to win the competition, so your mindset changes in that situation. It is not just about trying new things, because you might lose the championship if you do that. It is more regarding the pressure surrounding the entire competition that is tougher than playing one-off Tests.”
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