Ireland boss Declan Kidney blamed 'rustiness' for Ireland's laboured 29-11 victory over Italy in the opening match of the RBS 6 Nations Championship.
Although the Grand Slam champions cruised to victory, they struggled to generate any quick ball against an Italian team who similarly offered little in attack.
After an unbeaten 2009, Kidney decided not to hold a training camp over Christmas and believes that, as well as the Italians’ dogged defensive performance, both contributed to the turgid match.
He said: “We were bound to be a little bit rusty, but we'll take the win and move on. We need the passes to stick a bit more, we were close to line breaks a number of times but I think Italy defended very well as they always do.
“We decided to give the lads a break at Christmas and take a break because giving the players a break is just as important as any training we do and they had a tough twelve months last year.
“They're a difficult side to break down. I think sometimes we can be a bit disrespectful in how we talk about Italy, but we've a lot of respect for them and it was a tough game.
“It was a big pressure game and they did play tough. You can run yourself into walls. So we know there are an awful lot of things still to do.
“There was a small bit of rustiness out there but at the end, we are delighted with the win.
“In the past we have scored more points against Italy but this year they played a more pressured game against us and those opportunities didn't come our way.
“We didn't manage to put any pace in our game, especially in the second half. A bit of that was down to our rustiness.”
Kidney though was handed some good news after knocks to fly-half Ronan O’Gara and lock Paul O’Connell were not revealed to be that serious.
The pair both limped out of the match but Kidney fully expects to have the key pair back for Ireland’s match against France next Saturday.
“Ronan got a bang on the knee, Paul got a bang on the eye and had blurred vision so it was prudent to get them off, but I'm sure they'll front up again on Monday when we get back and start looking at Paris.
“There were a few lads who were in and around last year who are carrying knocks and that's what we're trying to build a squad for.”