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Ireland still have plenty to prove, warns skipper Rory Best amid Italian plaudits

By Jonathan bradley

Ireland captain Rory Best believes his team have plenty left to prove before they can call themselves Europe's best team.

Joe Schmidt's men have won both of their opening Six Nations fixtures, seeing off France two weekends ago before thumping Italy 56-19 in Dublin on Saturday afternoon.

After shipping eight tries, Italy captain Sergio Parisse and his coach Conor O'Shea, who have now seen both Ireland and back-to-back champions England up close over the last fortnight, said they believe it is the men in green playing the better rugby.

With the pair still on course for a Grand Slam decider in Twickenham on St. Patrick's day, Best was playing down the building hype with Wales and Scotland both to be tackled before that trip in London.

"I think it is always nice when you get a compliment from an opposition captain, but ultimately we will look at this game and see there are a lot of things that we can do a lot better, especially in the second half," said Best who scored his ninth Ireland try, and a first in four and a half years, during in the romp. "Ultimately, we will judge ourselves on how we go and in terms of comparisons to England, that's a long way away for us."

Parisse had said Ireland were now the tougher proposition.

"I think Ireland play much better rugby than England, it's much more difficult to defend," said the Italian legend who led his side to yet another heavy Six Nations defeat. "Of course, England are a great side as well but for me personally and after these two games, it was much more difficult against Ireland.

"I like the way they play very good rugby so I think they play better than England."

O'Shea, himself a former Irish international in his second campaign with Italy, admitted that he can't see his former side slipping up before that trip to Twickenham next month.

"They won't lose in Dublin," he said.

"They'll have stiffer tests because teams will hold on to the ball that we didn't in the first half. The whole mental energy of the game will change. But I can't see it doing anything except going down to March 17."

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