Now Joe Schmidt has challenged his players to throw off the comfort blanket of their routines and take any more surprises in their stride to keep their championship hopes burning.
Ireland were late arriving at Murrayfield on Saturday, and Schmidt admitted the rushed warm-up contributed to his side’s sluggish start which set them on their way to a surprise 27-22 defeat.
“I have challenged them for a better start in Italy,” said Schmidt. “It’s incredibly disappointing the way we started.
“There was a bit of anxiety at not having had the full period to warm-up.
Joe Schmidt has challenged his Ireland star to perform against Italy
Ireland suffered a shock defeat to Scotland on the opening weekend
Players get anxious, they get very routine-based, and it’s a challenge for a professional player that they can be adaptable in different circumstances, so they can still start well.
“You’re going to have disruptions and you’re going to have to be able to cope with that and still perform.
“They scored three tries in those first 25 minutes, then didn’t score another try after that. That reflects what we were capable of, but unfortunately then you’re chasing things.”
Schmidt has refused to gamble on Johnny Sexton’s fitness so Paddy Jackson will run the backline once again.
Six Nations 2017: 10 weird and wonderful highlights from past tournaments
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Click through the gallery for some of the most bizarre moments in Six Nations history
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Click through the gallery for the most bizarre moments in Six Nations history
Donnacha Ryan starts at lock with Ultan Dillane on the bench after Iain Henderson suffered a minor hamstring strain. Cian Healy is named at loosehead prop with Jack McGrath dropping to the bench and wing Craig Gilroy also among the replacements.
Italy have made four changes from the loss to Wales, with lock Andries Van Schalkwyk and flanker Simone Favaro returning to the starting line-up.
Angelo Esposito starts on the right wing with Giulio Bisegni dropping out of the squad, while Leonardo Ghiraldini returns at hooker in place of Ornel Gega and will partner Andrea Lovotti and Lorenzo Cittadini in the front row.
Maxime Mbanda, who came on as openside for Favaro against Wales, will start on the blindside, leaving Abraham Steyn on the bench.