/ Six Nations 2016

Jack McGrath warns Italians will 'flex their muscles'

Updated: Thursday, 10 Mar 2016 21:09 | Comments

Jack McGrath: 'The camaraderie is still there. We know we haven't been that far away.'
Jack McGrath: 'The camaraderie is still there. We know we haven't been that far away.'

Jack McGrath has warned his Ireland team-mates they must stand up to an Italy side ready to "flex their muscles" in Dublin on Saturday [Live RTÉ2 1.30pm].

The Azzurri have built a formidable reputation at the scrum and setpiece, and even without Martin Castrogiovanni - banned for a stamp on Scotland's Duncan Taylor - they will look to punish any cracks in the hosts' armoury.

Italy lock Quintin Geldenhuys has freely admitted Jacques Brunel's men will seek to capitalise on Ireland's poor form, and Leinster prop McGrath is braced for a physical, and mental, test at the Aviva Stadium.

“Italy pride themselves on their scrum and their lineout," he told RTÉ Sport. "That’s somewhere we’re going to have to try and take away from them. We’ve worked closely on it this week, doing a lot of video work and physical work.

"We have to bring that in to Saturday. They’ll be coming over trying to flex their muscles; we’re going to have to meet them face on.

“Our record at home is very good. It’s always nice to get back to a packed Aviva. We’re really looking forward to an early kick-off and a good Saturday."

It's been a frustrating spring for the reigning champions, as back-to-back defeats sucked the life out of a three-in-a-row charge, but McGrath insisted spirits are high within the camp as they look to finish as high as possible.

“The camaraderie is still there. We know we haven’t been that far away and we’re looking forward to a hard test on Saturday. Joe has made a point of trying to make third. We can't win the championship and we can’t make second so third is where we want to finish up.

“After a loss it can be quite tough. Lads can lose the head. Coming back to the Aviva we’ll be looking forward to a big performance. We’ve trained really well this week, we’re just itching to get to Saturday now. We want to get the ball rolling for a win."

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