Tyrone Howe: Let’s attack and blow away the Italians
Ireland’s game against Italy this weekend provides a tremendous opportunity for the team to really kickstart their Six Nations campaign back into life.
The postponement of the French match means that the team avoids the ignominy of entering this game with potentially two defeats.
It is realistic rather than pessimistic to expect that Ireland would have finished up on the wrong side of the scoreboard in Paris. That would have heaped pressure on the players and coach and created a potential monster in their match against Italy.
Not that the pressure is any less intense — Ireland must push on from their narrow defeat to Wales.
We need to see one word from Ireland — attack. Declan Kidney is blessed with some of the most dynamic and explosive ballcarriers in world rugby.
Ireland need to keep the ball, attack the gainline and be patient. There is no point retaining Johnny Sexton only to force him to play a kicking game.
Should quick ball be created, Sexton needs to be allowed to launch varied and challenging attacks to ask questions of the Italian defence.
All this, of course, based on the foundations of solid set-piece, defence and discipline.
This Italy side poses more threat than previous other sides. Under Jacques Brunel, Italy are being encouraged to play with a little more expansion and ambition. This was a necessary step as there is only ever the chance of limited success with one-dimensional ten man rugby.
Hopefully, it will be a virtuous cycle — the more they persevere with this approach, the more likely they are to come up with sustained higher quality rugby.
Italy are on an exciting journey, but Ireland need to provide a serious speed bump to their development.
An emphatic performance will put the Six Nations show back on the road and build momentum and real confidence as they look ahead to a tough few weeks.