Ireland head coach Adam Griggs is confident that the side's grieving process will be complete ahead of their make-or-break Rugby World Cup 2021 qualifier with Italy on Sunday.

The team have been left with no margin of error following their shock loss to Spain on Monday, but Griggs said that a bit of soul-searching in training this week ensures that they will be ready to respond in Parma.

"You almost have to go through a little bit of a grieving process in the days after the loss," he said. "We certainly did that.

"As a coaching group we made sure that we reviewed everything from the game and, again, it was an honest analysis of where we felt we went wrong and we presented that with the squad.

"We said 'we have to hold our hands up here’, support staff to players, and make sure that we don’t let that performance happen again.

"The first couple of days were difficult but we had a really good session in the middle of the week. We felt that was a good turning point for us to leave last week behind and move onto this weekend."

Italy are sitting top of the qualifying group after a 38-13 win over Scotland in round one, while they also recorded a 29-27 victory when these two sides last met at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi back in 2019.

Ireland have recorded back-to-back Six Nations wins against Italy on home soil since, but Griggs is well aware of the threat carried by Andrea Di Giandomenico’s side.

"We definitely can’t take our eye off the ball here and we’re not underestimating them," he said.

"They are a good team and, when they get on top and get some go-forward, they will exploit you. They like to offload the ball, they like to keep it alive.

Adam Griggs is hoping that Ireland can secure a third straight win over Italy

"We have spoken at length about making sure our defence is really dominant this week, put a real emphasis on that. Trying to shut down their space and not give them time on the ball.

"When we had a look at the game against Scotland they were allowed to play and if you allow that they are good and they will punish you."

The head coach believes that while they only managed seven points against Spain, their build-up play deserved more. Griggs has backed to his players to display a more ruthless streak against Italy.

"We actually created a lot of opportunities that we didn’t execute and didn’t finish.

"When you do review, and you create those opportunities, we have ultimately backed the players that they will finish off those opportunities this week.

"There is some cohesion there with the back three around Beibhinn (Parsons), Amee-Leigh (Murphy Crowe) and Eimear Considine as well."

Griggs has made four changes to the side that lost to Spain and although she is named amongst the replacements, he said that Lindsay Peat’s absence from the starting line-up was an enforced one.

"Lindsay Peat’s preparation this week was disrupted just for personal medical reasons so she wasn’t able to train as much."

"We wouldn’t have named her if she wasn’t good to go," he added. "It’s just, as I say, her training this week was impacted for medical reasons and it’s just never the best preparation if you're normally in the starting side and you’re missing training. She is fit and ready to go."

The winner of the qualifying group will automatically advance to next year’s delayed World Cup in New Zealand while the runner-up will earn a place in a final qualification tournament, possibly held in December, against Samoa, Colombia and the second-place team from the Asian qualifiers.

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