Six Nations: Stephen Ferris says Irish must improve home form

Stephen Ferris
Stephen Ferris says Ireland must be more ruthless at the Aviva Stadium

Stephen Ferris says Ireland must begin the process of turning the Aviva Stadium into a fortress by clinically dispatching Italy in Saturday's Six Nations clash in Dublin.

Ireland have lost six out of nine games at the rebuilt Lansdowne Road since returning to the south Dublin venue.

"New Zealand are the only team who have really beaten us. In the rest of the games we probably beat ourselves," said the 26-year-old.

"We've let teams off the hook."

Ferris added: "We need to be a bit smarter and when we do have our foot on opponents' throats, we should keep it there.

"We need to be a bit more clinical and grind it out when we need to.

"We had the opportunity to do that against Wales three weeks ago.

"We wouldn't be talking about this if we had beaten Wales."

Ferris identifies the impressive home record of his province Ulster, who have not been toppled at Ravenhill since early October, as an example of the attitude that should be adopted.

"With Ulster we drive up to Ravenhill on a Friday night knowing we're going to win," he said.

"We also need to be driving on the bus to the Aviva knowing that we're going to win.

"That's the feeling you have to get at your home stadium and it comes with results, big victories and strong performances. We should start that this weekend."

The clash with Italy begins a schedule of four matches in 22 days, forced by the weather-postponed game against France.

It means Ireland will have waited three weeks for the opportunity to atone for the 23-21 loss to Wales that opened their Six Nations campaign in such disappointing fashion.

"Everybody's itching to play a game of rugby," Ferris said.

"A few lads had a run out for their provinces last weekend but most of us haven't played for a while.

"There's no doubt four successive Test matches will be very physically demanding, but we're used to it.

"We did it at the World Cup and we play week in week out for the provinces.

"Speaking with all the players after the France game was postponed, it was never an issue for anyone."

Ireland met Italy twice last year, winning on both occasions in games of contrasting difficulty.

In Rome the Irish needed a late Ronan O'Gara drop-goal to escape with 13-11 victory, while at the World Cup they emerged impressive 36-6 winners.

"Italy have played well so far in this Six Nations and have been unlucky not to get a result in their two games," added Ferris.

"It will be a tough day at the office, we know that. It's very important that we win and get things rolling again."