Andy Farrell hailed Ireland debutants Will Connors and Hugo Keenan as the pair made a major contribution to keeping Ireland's Six Nations championship ambitions alive.

Winger Keenan crossed for two tries and flanker Connors claim one and the man of the match nod.

"I thought they were excellent, superb," said Farrell after the 50-17 win over Italy, which also saw scrum-half Jamison Gibson-Park and hooker Ed Byrne make their international bows.

"We asked them to be themselves and not just hope that things go well.

"You've got to create stuff and be yourself and back yourself and I thought every one of them to a man did that. 

Ringrose out of France clash

"Obviously Hugo and Will got to play the full game and their work ethic was fabulous.

"It's what we would expect of them and what we see them doing week in and week out.

"It would be interesting to see Hugo's GPS and Will's tackle count." 

"The energy that they gave the side was exactly what we wanted of them and for Ed to come off the bench and get stuck in, not just try to fit in and hope that things go well.

"They were being themselves and Jamo came on and hit a nice little kick over the defensive line.

"That was great. To see them all was great and they kept the continuity going. Great to get them all under way and I'm sure those are the first of many." 

Farrell, whose side now travel to Paris next Saturday knowing that a bonus-point win would secure the title, had urged his side to be "ruthless" ahead of the game.

Leading 24-3 at the break, the scene was set for the hosts to put the plucky but ill-disciplined Italians away, however, they only sprung to life after conceding the first try of the second half to the visitors.

Asked if that was a frustrating period, he said: "And the first ten minutes [when Conor Murray was yellow-carded]. You don't plan for your 9 getting sin-binned either so we struggled to get in to the start of the game as well.

"The game never goes according to plan, does it? You've always got to be patient, you can't just expect to flow in the second-half, it's never like that.

"I love the fact that we were patient and we still went after them defensively and created our own luck in the end."