Scotland lock Richie Gray seeking to end winless Six Nations run
Scotland lock Richie Gray insists their RBS 6 Nations losing streak has not been a topic of conversation as they bid to turn their campaign around in Rome on Saturday.
Scotland have lost nine consecutive games in the competition since Duncan Weir kicked a last-minute drop goal in the Italian capital on February 22, 2014.
But Gray is determined to fight back following opening losses to England and Wales in this year's tournament.
The Castres second-rower said: "Do I think about the losing streak? I try not to think about it too much.
"When you play rugby, especially at international level, you invest a huge amount of emotion into it. And when you come off the back of a loss, it's tough. You sit there and get down and have to dust yourself off.
"I certainly feel emotional after a loss but you just have to come out fighting.
"We've not spoken about a run. We're excited to go into a tough Test match over there.
"It's an opportunity for us to go out and play our stuff and hopefully, if we can do that, we can get the win. That's what everyone is looking forward to."
Scotland recorded two wins over Italy during their World Cup warm-up campaign before beating United States, Japan and Samoa in England and coming within two minutes of knocking out Australia.
And Gray is convinced that better times are ahead if they can turn narrow defeats to England and Wales into victories in the coming weeks.
When asked if there was a mental barrier to winning in the Six Nations, the former Glasgow player said: "It's a tough competition. Every team we are playing against is a good side.
"A mental barrier? I certainly think winning is a habit and an art. And I think if we can get that win and get a couple on the bounce, you will start to see a more confident side and a side that knows what it can do. A win would be huge."
Scotland beat Italy 48-7 at Murrayfield in August but Gray knows they will face a tougher contest in Rome.
"They pushed France very close and could have got the win in Paris, which is no easy thing, and they were maybe within two points of England until about the 60th minute when England started to pull away," he said.
"They are traditionally strong up front and, from looking at them, you can see their backs are playing with a bit of width this year and have added a couple of new dimensions to their game. So it will be a very tough match and we certainly know that."
Scotland suffered a blow in the build-up when Grant Gilchrist's hopes of playing in the competition were ended by a broken arm he suffered while making his comeback from a groin injury for Glasgow.
Gray's fellow lock saw his World Cup finish early because of the groin problem and a separate arm injury ensured he missed last year's Six Nations.
"It's very unfortunate," Gray said. "He did his first one and had a long lay-off, and that was tough enough to take. But then the World Cup was a big blow and now another one. That's tough.
"But he's a strong character and he will keep fighting and I'm sure he will be back in a good place."
Cotter names his team on Thursday morning before the squad fly out to Rome but Weir, Josh Strauss, Rob Harley, Grayson Hart, Gordon Reid and Zander Fagerson will not be involved after being released to play for Glasgow in Newport.