Stephen Ferris says he would have preferred to see John Cooney start against Scotland as Ireland got their Six Nations campaign underway on Saturday.

Andy Farrell got off to a winning start as the Irish head coach as well as getting an opening victory in the 2020 tournament.

He chose long-time scrum-half incumbent Conor Murray to start rather than Ulster's Cooney ,who entered the fray from the bench in the second half.

Speaking to RTÉ 2FM Game On, former Ulster and Ireland back-row Ferris said he would have gone in another direction when it came to the number nine selection.

"I would have had John Cooney starting," he said.

"I think it would have been a great message to send to the rest of the team and to the rest of the players playing rugby in Ireland.

"It would say, 'If you're in form and playing really, really well week in, week out for your province, that you'll be in with a shout.' Not only in with a shout of playing but of starting an international match.

"I felt sorry for John because he has been banging that door, not just for the last couple of weeks but the last six months really."

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But Ferris added that it would not surprise him if Farrell "mixed things up a little bit" against Wales this Saturday in round two of the Six Nations.

However, he believes the better team on the day lost on Saturday as Ireland secured a narrow win over Scotland.

"For me, and I call it as it is, I thought the best team lost on the day," he said. "But that's Ireland at the minute. They dug so deep and that's got to be credited.

"The way they defended for periods of time during that match, I think you've got to commend the guys and take your hat off to them for the endeavour and real work-rate that you saw on the day.

"But if you asked Johnny [Sexton] or any of the lads, I think that they would tell you that they were slightly off the pace and that they didn't play their best game.

"But they haven't played any international rugby since our Rugby World Cup exit and it's going to take a bit of time to get going and thankfully they got across the line and got that win."

Pre-match, Ferris wanted Ireland to play with the shackles off more. But did he see enough of that approach even intermittently on Saturday?

"They seemed to do that in fits and starts," he said.

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"Yes, probably their attacking wasn't brilliant at the weekend and to be honest, I still don't have an answer for that question.

"I think it's probably going to take the whole tournament, the five games, to go, 'Right, this is what Andy Farrell's actually trying to get out of his team, this is what he's trying to implement to make them better.'"

He added that the team are "still adjusting" to Farrell and new attack coach Mike Catt's methods. 

Meanwhile, the Irish scrum did not function at its best against the Scots. 

Game On co-host and ex-Ireland and Munster lock Donncha O'Callaghan felt it shows the void left by Rory Best's retirement - a point Ferris echoed regarding the former international captain's scrummaging ability.

"You're in the gym with Rory Best and he's not bench pressing 200 kgs and he's not squatting 200 kg," he said.

"But if you get into an arm-wrestle with him or a clinch, he will put you to ground and he will absolutely tear you apart."

On Best's initial replacement, Rob Herring, Ferris feels the Ulster hooker will "learn with experience", given that he only has a handful of international caps in the position thus far.

"There's no doubt that Rob Herring has that physicality and has that strength," he continued.

"Is Ronan Kelleher a better scrummager than Rob Herring? I don't know is the answer but it'll be interesting to see if there's a change this week.

"I felt Rob went well, went okay, but maybe an extra bit of beef in there with Kelleher might shore things up."