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Joe Schmidt makes two changes for trip to Italy

Joe Schmidt makes two changes for trip to Italy

Ireland's team bus was 15 minutes late arriving for their match at Murrayfield last week, with Schmidt claiming later that his players were unsettled by a rushed warmup.

But it seems Vern Cotter's side have learned from those losses, and it was the home side rather than the Irish who found the will to win in the closing minutes as they pushed into the visitors' half and earned two penalties, both of which Laidlaw converted to seal a memorable 27-22 win. We made it hard for ourselves.

It looks very achievable, with Ireland eager to get off the mark and England the favourites to win in Wales.

"We understand how we can win games from being behind".

Ireland will not gamble on Jonathan Sexton's fitness in the Six Nations match against Italy in Rome on Saturday.

Asked about those previous near-misses, Laidlaw said: "It does give us a lot of belief. '99 was a good few years before that, but we know what we want to do".

"France have improved massively under Guy Noves and they aren't far away from any team they are playing". "They have some really risky strike runners throughout the team".

"They have become a really risky team and can cause anyone problems".

"We've certainly given them that challenge this week and hopefully we'll see better things", Schmidt told a news conference on Thursday. Wales got a little unlucky with a couple of things, a few cross-field kicks, and they are actually specialities of Joe's.

"We could have taken a draw in that pre-World Cup game but the players at the time wanted to go for the win and if we were a bit more accurate we might have got it".

"The Stade de France is a great stadium, it's open and in terms of real noise you don't hear it as much as you do at other stadiums". What we did in the second half and at the end of the first half showed what we can do as a team.

Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw has admitted the close results on their last two trips to Paris are firing their belief they can get a result against France.



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