Scrum-half Kathryn Dane believes Ireland put the pain of defeat to England firmly behind them with victory in Scotland and will improve again when they travel to face Italy this weekend.

Ireland were thumped 51-7 by the game's only fully professional outfit at Energia Park in their opening Six Nations fixture but bounced back to win 22-5 in Glasgow last time out.

"We didn't let it get to us at all," the 22-year-old told RTÉ Sport. "We just rebuilt. We had a really positive atmosphere in the camp, worked so hard that week, and it showed for us on the pitch. 

"We played really expansive rugby, showed off our skills in terrible conditions and we're just going to keep getting better and better.

"Hopefully, we can bring the same sort of performance to Italy."

The Ulster woman earned her first two caps off the bench and will start for the first time in Lecce on Saturday (6.45pm, live on RTÉ2).

Italy finished fourth in last year's tournament and are unbeaten in their first two games - a 28-7 win away in Scotland and 3-3 draw at home to Wales.

"They seem to be very threatening," said Dane. "They have that offload option can break down any defensive lines and are notorious for (forcing) turnovers.

"Their counter-attack will be a bit of pressure for us.

"We do look at their strengths and try to shut them down as best we can but the main focus is playing our game and dominating in our play."

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Dane, who studies physiotherapy at Trinity College, also played in the U17 European football championships for Northern Ireland and lined out for home-town hockey club Enniskillen.

"I suppose I've always been a bit of an all-rounder," she laughs. "Team sports are my passion, I love the camaraderie and everything that entails.

"I played soccer and rugby at the same from under 8 level, played with the lads all the way through to U-14. I took up the hockey, played a bit of golf as well, it's just been natural for me to play as many sports as I can.

"Juggling that with final year is the next big challenge but so far so good."

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Dane isn't the only Enniskillen Collegiate graduate in the Ireland squad this weekend either. Her school team-mate Claire Boles, who came on for her debut against Scotland, is again on the bench.

"You can't really think about it because you're so focused on the game but I was speechless to get it," 20-year-old flanker Boles said of her first cap, after which she sang Kenny Rogers' 'The Gambler' as part of her initiation to the team.

"You've been working so hard for such a long time, it means everything.

"Everyone is pushing for places and it's really hard to get your spot but you just have to really prove yourself and give it everything to get it.

"The support we got for the England game was unreal. A lot of schoolgirls came. Just to see them, you know that rugby is getting places. Girls are getting more interested in it."

Follow Italy v Ireland with our live blog on RTÉ Online and the News Now App or watch live on RTÉ 2 from 6.30pm