Ireland have the personnel to cause opposition defences more issues than they have been showing to date, but need to strike the right balance, according to Donal Lenihan. 

Andy Farrell's side as expected eased to a bonus-point win in Italy after opening the Six Nations with two defeats, but the development of their attacking game will come under much more scrutiny against Scotland this weekend. 

Six of Ireland’s eight tries to date in the competition were garnered in Rome, yet in a period stretching back to the 2019 Six Nations, the men in green have looked laboured at times against Tier One opposition.

A conservative approach, an over-reliance on box-kicking and players not in Test form have put forward as possible reasons behind the trend, but Lenihan was encouraged by what he saw last time out, even if the quality of the Azzurri is factored in. 

"I’d hate to see us take two steps back from the way we played against Italy," he told the RTÉ Rugby podcast.

"When we held onto the ball, we created opportunities. I think we have the capacity to stress the defence more than we are doing by continually kicking the ball away. 

"Robbie Henshaw and Garry Ringrose can create issues for any midfield that they come against them. If we play off them, there are opportunities for that back three."

The snappy Jamison Gibson-Park did his reputation in the nine jersey no harm at Stadio Olimpico and Lenihan believes who Farrell selects as Johnny Sexton’s half-back partner will give an indication of his thinking from an attacking perspective. 

"Gibson-Park has done well and definitely picks up the tempo, taps and goes off penalties, he tends to move the ball. If Conor Murray comes back in, then maybe you’d think we’d be going back to a more kicking game.

"That’s going to be instructive for me."

After opening their campaign with a famous win at Twickenham, the Scots came back down to earth with a defeat to Wales, a game they looked fully in control of until the dismissal of prop Zander Ferguson. 

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Bernard Jackman believes Scotland too have changed their approach, one that may not be as easy on the eye, but is capable of achieving positive results. 

"They are improving in terms of set-piece and they have moved away from a free-flowing game that Gregor Townsend implemented with Glasgow and tried to implement in with Scotland. They will try and play territory for sure." 

From an Irish perspective, it is about maintaining an upward curve in terms of performance. 

We hear all about heads up rugby, but if that is the case, we should see a more balanced approach

Lenihan feels greater balance is required to succeed; the box-kicking needs to selective, yet at the same time, we can suddenly become an off-loading team overnight. 

"We are either all duck and no dinner, or the other way. It’s a question of better balance to our game and that is something that evolves as the game progresses, not sticking rigidly to a plan. 

"We hear all about heads up rugby, but if that is the case, we should see a more balanced approach." 

Follow Scotland v Ireland (kick-off 3pm, Sunday) via our live blog on and the RTÉ News app or listen live on RTÉ Radio 1's Sunday Sport. Highlights on Against the Head on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player, 8pm Monday.