Joe Schmidt allayed fears of a lack of a cutting edge in the Irish attack and is hopeful his team can play for 80 minutes like they began in Paris last weekend.

Ireland were the only team on the opening weekend to fail to register a try as they squeezed past France courtesy of late drama and coolly taken drop-goal by Johnny Sexton.

Some critics have questioned whether Ireland’s controlled game-plan is more focused on avoiding defeat - seeking territory, retaining possession and forcing the opposition into the concession of penalties - than trying to developing a more free-flowing attacking game.

The big question: Do Ireland score enough tries?

The men in green have scored six tries against Wales, France and England in their last 10 Six Nations encounters and last Saturday at the Stade de France, rarely looked like scoring other than from the boot of Sexton.

Schmidt however says he was encouraged by the way they began the game on the front foot.

"I was quite excited by how potent we were in the first minutes when they were most motivated, how we could turn them around inside those early parts of the game," he told RTÉ Sport.

"We were frustrated by some of how the attack was blunted. I think we have to work harder at making the ball quick. There was a lot of traffic at the breakdowns which should have been cleaned up. You have got to be good enough to do that yourself and then hopefully we can give that platform to Conor and the guys can play on the back of that."

France created a Six Nations record of their own in defeat, something Schmidt referenced when reinforcing the attacking quality of his own charges

"To force them, on their home their home turf to 245 tackles, is not a bad effort when you want to try and stay in control."

Next up is an altogether different proposition with the visit of Conor O’Shea’s Italy. As is often their way, they fronted up for a large portion of the game against England before Eddie Jones’ upped the gears after the break.

Schmidt has decided to make four changes in the pack, with the backrow having a very different feel. Josh van der Flier cried off in Paris with a knee injury, while CJ Stander’s heavy workload contributed to his demotion to the bench.

In come Leinster pair Dan Leavy and Jack Conan and Schmidt says they fully deserve their chance to start a game in the Six Nations for the first time.

"What’s visible with Jack is his ability to accelerate with the ball and carry. He brings a physical side to it. His ability to transfer the ball through contact is another impressive thing," Schmidt said of the abrasive number 8, also highlight his improved work at the lineout.

Leavy gets the nod after a sound showing as a replacement for Van der Flier last week.

"Dan got straight into the game in Paris. He got off the line and defended. He took a super kick-off, which was a little short of the 10m. When those sorts of things happen, you just want players to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and I think Dan did that."

One player all Irish fans are hoping to catch a glimpse of in green is Leinster tyro Jordan Larmour. The 20-year-old is included in the match-day 23 for the first time and is set for his first cap.

According to Schmidt, it is simply a case of bringing what he has brought all season if called upon.

"I expect Jordan to provide what he has been providing at provincial matches," he said.

"That electric acceleration, that change of direction, but also that surety under the high ball. We’d love to see all that and away from the ball, he has a super work-rate. We know that if we are coming under pressure, he will work really hard to relieve that pressure."

There has been growing speculation that Larmour could start against France or Italy at full-back instead of Rob Kearney, or even slot in on the wing, but Schmidt says the versatile back will benefit from the players around him whatever position he is asked to fill.

"If he replace Keith or Jacob on the edges, then having Rob at the back will be an asset. If he replaces Rob, then having Keith particularly with his experience on the edge, will be an asset as well.

"That’s part of what we do when we try to place a guy in, but you don’t place a player in and expect him to be looked after. He has an expectation himself of what he needs to do.

"Hopefully he will being those exciting elements to the game."

Follow our live blog of Ireland v Italy (2.15pm kick-off) on RTÉ Online and the RTÉ News Now App, or listen to commentary from Michael Corcoran and Donal Lenihan on RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday Sport.