Despite having yet to post a win, Ireland’s attack coach Mike Catt seems quietly confident that the men in green are on the right track.
Johnny Sexton’s men opened their campaign with a frustrating 21-6 loss to the Welsh, hanging onto the lead for an impressive length of time considering they were forced to play the lion’s share of the match with 14 men after Peter O’Mahony was given his marching orders after a dangerous clean-out at a ruck.
They were then outdone 15-13 by the French at the Aviva Stadium in a game in which the magical performance of Les Bleus’ scrumhalf Antoine Dupont could not be stopped as he led his side to victory.
With just three rounds left, it is make-or-break time for the Irish.
“Every team wants to score four or five tries every game, to go out and express themselves,” Catt said.
“Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but we believe the way we are going is the right way.
“We probably could have scored two or three more tries against Wales with 14 men with the opportunities we created, and against as France as well.
“Rugby is about the decisions you make, and we’re happy with what we’re creating.
“Then it’s about the final pass, the final decision, or putting ourselves in the right parts of the pitch to create pressure on the opposition. We didn’t do that well enough against France.”
It is the first time in the competition’s history that Ireland have begun a campaign with back-to-back defeats, but they are looking ahead to the Italy fixture with high hopes that their attacking game, particularly, will blossom.
“Look back at the (2020) Six Nations and Autumn Nations Cup and we’ve scored some good tries. We’ve scored some exciting tries and the players have done exceptionally well,” Catt added.
“The circumstances haven’t let us do it this campaign at the moment, but the focus this weekend is on getting a foothold in the game and doing what we’re good at.
“We’ve been disappointed in terms of the finishing and the players have got to get that right this weekend.”