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De Luca out to put on a show in Rome

Scotland centre Nick De Luca is eager to "put on a show" at the Stadio Olimpico in the RBS 6 Nations wooden spoon decider with Italy on Saturday.

The 28-year-old Edinburgh centre has been named in the starting XV in the only change in personnel from last weekend's 32-14 loss to Ireland, a game he had to withdraw from in the warm-up due to a hamstring problem.

Now De Luca, who has Italian ancestry and was once courted by Viadana and Treviso, is aiming to put on a strong display in a 72,000-seat stadium more renowned for Serie A football than Six Nations rugby. He told Press Association Sport: "It's a great arena and I look forward to hopefully putting on a show."

The venue was built for the 1960 Olympic Games and has hosted four European Cup finals and the 1990 football World Cup final and has taken over as the home of the Azzurri from the Stadio Flaminio, which is currently undergoing refurbishment.

De Luca recalls watching Channel 4 programme Football Italia in his youth and followed Lazio, Roma and Juventus - the latter "just because (Alessandro) Del Piero was there".

Lazio, who play at the Stadio Olimpico, were De Luca's chosen side, until he realised the right-wing politics of the club's ultras, and he liked watching combative midfielder Dejan Stankovic because "he quite often wore a face mask because he broke his cheek".

De Luca, who scored a try in last season's 21-8 win at Murrayfield which saw Scotland avoid the wooden spoon, is keen to show his defensive ability on Saturday against a strong Italy side.

He added: "I'll be looking to bring my energy, my defence and my skills in attack back to the team and hopefully we can start ticking again.

"Our defence has got to be huge. They've got some big ball carriers and as a 13 I see myself as setting an example, so I'll be looking to do that."


From Belfast Telegraph