Tony Ward says Ireland will "go through hell" over the next few days as they come to terms with a disastrous first-half performance in Edinburgh that shattered any aspirations of a Grand Slam.

The visitors looked completely out of sorts in the opening 40, heading for the break trailing Scotland 21-8 and struggling with almost every facet of their game.

"We arrived at the stadium 10 or 15 minutes late and we were late for most things in the first half,” was Joe Schmidt's post-match verdict.

RTÉ rugby analyst Ward echoed that assessment as he reflected on a desperately disappointing afternoon.

"We knew it was going to be a huge hurdle in the opening game," he told RTÉ Sport.

"We just weren't in the right place for the start of that game"

"They were a lot better than I expected them to be. I think what disappointed me more than anything was the lack of energy in the opening half. To concede three tries in the manner we did... they were relatively cheaply given up.

"And then to come back in the manner we did in the third quarter, to get back into the lead and then surrender it again. When you put it all together it's been a really disappointing start to the campaign.

"The reality is, after one game we're out of the Triple Crown, we're out of the Grand Slam, we're still in the championship but we're playing catch-up.

"We have another international in a few days' time and I think that's a good thing. They're going to go through hell in the next few days with Joe, given the way they played."

Ireland's preparation for their Six Nations opener was disrupted when their police escort took them on an alternative route to Murrayfield, before a pipe band's march on to the pitch left them kicking their heels a little longer.

Any suggestion this affected the players adversely holds no water with Ward though, who expects a serious response against Conor O'Shea's Italy in Stadio Olimpico next Saturday.

"They're professionals, they're together day in day out preparing for this game. For whatever reason, they weren't there. I'd find that hard to swallow.

"Having done so well in the Autumn Series, maybe the hype in the build-up from all of us got to them somewhat but we just weren't in the right place for the start of that game.

"What changes can you make? Very little, given the turnaround in games so it's an opportunity for the bulk of that team to produce again.

"Yes we can get back into the championship but we've got an awful lot to do and we certainly can't afford any more performances like Saturday along the way."