Conor O’Shea says he didn’t want to mention it publicly before the match but he had expected the Ireland game, their second in six days, to be the hardest of Italy's NatWest Six Nations campaign. 

As expected Italy are nought from two after their opening games but have now faced the two pre-tournament favourites.

But after a 46-15 defeat to England and a 56-19 loss today, the former Ireland full-back has seen first hand what it’s like to go up against the so-called big boys of the Six Nations.

While we all set ourselves up for a fall, the final-day clash with England still looms large, even before Wales, in two weeks' time, and Scotland are taken into account.

"They won’t lose here," said O’Shea when asked how Ireland, who lost Robbie Henshaw and Tadhg Furlong to injury, compared to England.

"They’ll have stiffer tests because teams will hold on to the ball that we didn’t in the first half. The whole mental energy of the game will change.

"If you were to ask me now I’d say Ireland to win. I hope their injuries aren’t as bad as they looked. They are big losses to that team.

"I can’t see it doing anything except going down to March 17."

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Similarly, captain Sergio Parisse, knew his audience.

"I think Ireland play much better rugby than England, it’s much [more] difficult to defend [against]," the 34-year-old, who won his 130th cap, said after the match. 

"Of course, England is a great side as well but for me personally and after these two games, it was much [more] difficult against Ireland.

"I like the way they play, for me they play very good rugby so I think they play better than England.

"The first 20 minutes was a disaster.

"Ireland is a great side and when they play under pressure they are very good, and today they played without pressure and they are awesome.

"I’m so disappointed for the first 20 minutes, the mistakes we made, mistakes that we can control, a couple of easy knock-ons, we dropped a couple of balls in contact."