RTÉ expert rugby analysts reckon that Ireland can sort out their attacking woes against Italy, helping to ensure a positive finish to the Guinness Six Nations.

Joe Schmidt’s side finished 2018 on a high, beating New Zealand, climbing to number two in the world rankings and looking every inch contenders for the Rugby World Cup.

But 2019 hasn’t started so well, with a chastening opening-day Six Nations defeat to England and a scruffy win over Scotland.

On RTÉ2’s Against The Head, Bernard Jackman, Eddie O’Sullivan and Fiona Coghlan broke down Ireland’s performances in 2019 to date and identified the attack as a key area which has misfired.

"The attack in 2018 was exceptional," said Jackman. "We’re not the biggest team so generally we create opportunities from our shape."

Former Ireland international Jackman explained that last year Ireland created go-forward ball behind rucks by having a pod of three forwards shielding a back, generally out-half Jonathan Sexton.

The problem so far this season is that group of players have been ‘disconnected’ or too far behind the ruck, to gain momentum.

This has been exacerbated by poor passing out of the breakdown.

"Where we looked good against New Zealand was in attack, but the weakest part of New Zealand’s game is their defence," said former Ireland head coach Eddie O’Sullivan.

"Even though they tend to score more than you, they’ve conceded on average 20 points in the last ten games. The England and Scotland defences are a lot more buttoned up so you need to be a lot more accurate."

Jackman believes that Schmidt’s serial winners were thrown by their poor performance and defeat to England, which left them scrambling in the Scotland game.

But he feels that Sunday’s game against Italy in Rome is the ideal opportunity to put things right again with fixtures against France and Wales to follow.

"Ireland lost a bit of confidence against England," he said. "They’ll fix it and Italy is an absolutely perfect opportunity to put up a big score and that will hopefully lead into France and then on to Italy," he said.

"The past two weeks; it was a real opportunity to fine-tune our shape to get quicker ball and more gain-lines."

Italy are currently rock bottom of the Six Nations table and the side coached by former Ireland full-back Conor O’Shea look like they are destined for another wooden spoon.

O'Sullivan added: "What Ireland need is a big win so I would go into it with the strongest team possible."

Follow Italy v Ireland (3pm) via our live blog on RTÉ.ie/sport and the News Now app, or listen to live national radio commentary on 2fm.