Ireland captain Johnny Sexton says his side are well aware of the importance of points difference as they prepare to take on Italy in Sunday’s Six Nations clash at the Aviva Stadium.
ll eyes will be on Murrayfield on Saturday, as Ireland hope France slip up against Scotland – and blow the Six Nations title race wide open.
Ireland are expected to extend Italy’s losing streak to 35 games, with the bookies installing them as heavy 40-point favourites.
Sexton has recovered from the hamstring injury that kept him out of the defeat to France, but Iain Henderson will miss the visit of the Azzurri, having tested positive for Covid.
With the Six Nations expected to go down to the wire, Sexton warned that every point counts in the bid to be crowned champions.
“In this competition, with all the bonus points, it is something that we are mindful of from the get-go,” he said. “It is no different (now). We know that every point will count.
“That has to be part of our mentality, that we try and win as many moments as we can, but how we do it is getting our performance right.”
Sexton insisted there is still a “massive amount” of belief within the squad, despite the setback in Paris, as Ireland look to get back on track against Italy on Sunday.
“We spoke about it that if we win our last three games, we are guaranteed the Triple Crown,” the out-half added.
“I came up in an era when they were winning Triple Crowns for fun, but then you look into history we have won, I think, it is 11 Triple Crowns, which is very few over the last 100 years.
“That would be a great thing. And of course we will give ourselves a great shot at the title.”