Rob Kearney: 'We were made work hard for the win'
Ireland full-back Rob Kearney admitted his side's 26-3 win over Italy was a "slog" - but said that was exactly how they expected the match to be.
While the 2015 RBS 6 Nations was kicked off in thrilling fashion on Friday night by England's win over Wales, Saturday's encounter at the Stadio Olimpico was more a battle of attrition as defending champions Ireland laboured to victory.
Joe Schmidt's men eventually prevailed in Rome through second-half tries from Conor Murray and Tommy O'Donnell when Italy hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini was in the sin-bin, but while the clash may not have been the best spectacle, Kearney insisted Ireland never expected it to be easy.
He told BBC1: "It was a slog, but I don't know if it was that frustrating. Any time you come to Rome that's exactly what you're expecting - a slog.
"We knew that if we just kept chipping away and trying to build some phases that eventually we would break them down."
Ireland suffered a blow minutes before kick-off when flanker Sean O'Brien was forced to pull out of the starting line-up, nursing his hamstring.
The injury-plagued 27-year-old was poised to make his first Test appearance since November 2013 and Kearney said it was a "massive disappointment" for his Leinster team-mate to miss out.
Kearney said: "It was a bit of a shock for us just before kick-off but we prepped really well and the substitutes train hard during the week and they come in.
"It didn't move us off our groove too much but it's a massive disappointment for him, he's worked so hard to get back here."