Jamie Roberts: Paris was a huge relief – now the shackles are off as Wales head for Rome

Millennium Eye: The last two times we have been there the games have been close

What a game of extremes rugby is: no tournament demonstrates that better than the Six Nations. Week one: hugely disappointing. Week two: hugely encouraging. The difference from week to week can be immense and after that run of games without a win you can see the impact that success in Paris has had around the camp.

Everyone has been playing that little bit more freely in training over the last week but equally everyone, players and coaches, is all too aware that it is only one win, and no matter what an emotional and tough victory it was against France there has been no complacency in our build-up to facing Italy in Rome this afternoon.

We have worked harder in the last week than we have all championship because now it is about raising the bar. What was great about our game in Paris was the intensity we brought from the very first minute, the desire to tackle hard, to get off our lines, to regenerate, to keep going from first to last – there really was a very emotional desire to get through it. We have to match that in Italy against a passionate home side who will be backed by an equally passionate home crowd – you could see in the celebrations after they beat France in Rome on the first weekend what victory means to players and supporters over here.

Italy, despite that setback against Scotland, are a much improved side and they caused France real problems. Defensively, we need to be at least on the level we were in Paris to contain the Italians. We have to match that intensity from Paris.

One consequence of that success in France (pictured) is that when you have gone eight games without a victory and then you win one it does throw the shackles off to an extent. Things snowball when you lose a lot on the bounce.

Looking back on it, maybe we became more restricted in the brand of rugby we produced on the field. Perhaps we were going out looking first and foremost not to lose rather than going out there to score tries and win.

This is about balance, though. It's so important with that win secured that we now don't go to the other extreme and try and play sevens rugby, chucking the ball all over the place. International rugby is won by doing the hard work first, making teams tackle, tiring them out and making the right decisions on the ball. Then the chances will come as the match opens up.

I was not surprised Italy beat France but then I didn't expect them to either – if that makes sense! You knew they had a chance, as they do against anyone in Rome. France went there and played the wrong brand of rugby and came unstuck. We have seen the mistakes they made and have to make sure we get our brand right. It will change over the course of the game, as the match develops. We want to go out and attack and score tries – but once the platform is there.

Italy's two performances so far have been contrasting – excellent against France, struggled in Scotland – but it is their home form we have to concentrate on. When in Rome…

The last two times we have been there the games have been close. Two years ago it was an eight-point win and in 2009 it needed a late try by Tom Shanklin to give us the win.

At home the one thing you will always get from Italy is solidity. They are a tough, physical team and will keep coming at you, keep the hits coming and play to their strengths.

They will miss Sergio Parisse – any team would – but it would be a mistake on our part to think that will weaken them. When a player like that is missing the typical response from the rest of the squad is to raise their game to make up for their main man's absence.

This is a big weekend – the game at Twickenham is set to be one of the key moments of the Championship and I'm not surprised the French have moved Wesley Fofana back to 12. He is the catalyst of everything Clermont do, their go-to man. It's going to be interesting. We still have England to play and have to go to Murrayfield, where Scotland are vastly improved and are playing some lovely rugby. It's going to be an interesting run-in, but just now there can be no thinking any further ahead than this afternoon.

I've put the books aside – for now

We arrived in Rome on Thursday evening and it was straight back to the medical books for me. I spent the whole of Wednesday, our day off, in the library too. You have to keep the studies and the rugby separate, so the books went away yesterday ahead of the captain's run and my first look at the Olympic Stadium – our last two games here were in the Stadio Flaminio – but it will be straight back to revision when we get home. It's getting more intense as the exams get closer. For any exam the pressure of time is probably the best thing for revision – it makes you get on with it. The next three, four weeks through the exams are going to be pretty hellish but once I reach the other side it will be a good feeling. Hopefully!

Jamie Roberts, Wales centre, launched Guinness Class at Twickenham stadium. For more information on how you can win a trip on a luxury private jet to an RBS Six Nations game for you and your mates, visit facebook.com/GuinnessGB

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones