Jack Conan feels he has moved up a level in recent months and truly "earned" his NatWest Six Nations debut.

The Leinster number 8 will win his sixth Ireland cap on Saturday against Italy at Lansdowne Road (2.15pm).

The 25-year-old’s international career to date has consisted of Tests against Scotland, USA, Japan and Fiji and he says a conversation with head coach Joe Schmidt about the famous ‘work-ons’ has worked out.

"I sat down with Joe post-November internationals and I was told what I needed to work on," he told RTÉ Sport, after being named in the starting XV with CJ Stander on the bench. 

"And that was consistency in my game and my defensive role and defensive effort. It’s something I’ve worked on hard for the last two and a half months. I think it has paid dividends.

"Statistically speaking, I’m making more dominant tackles and more tackles. There’s obviously a lot more scope for improvement but it’s definitely a start.

"I’m absolutely delighted. Obviously this isn’t my first time in camp... but this is the first time I’ve actually earned it, earned an opportunity to start.

"The last few months have gone great for me and I can’t wait to get out there."

It almost goes without saying but the Dubliner knows that the time for reflecting on the famous last-gasp win in Paris is over. His focus is on building on the momentum created by the victory.

"You can’t dwell on France too long," he said.

"We’re turning the page over to Italy. It’s great to start off with a win but we’re not looking past Italy at the moment.

"If we don’t win on Saturday, France kind of becomes irrelevant."

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.