Former Ireland international Stephen Ferris feels that Ireland are not too far away from hitting form but need to show something extra against England if they are to keep their World Cup preparations on track.
Speaking to us on this week's The Buildup podcast, Ferris spoke of his bemusement at the intensity shown by Ireland against Italy, albeit their first match of the season:
That was something I couldn't my head around, watching the Irish team against Italy. Guys that are fighting and jockeying for positions like Tommy O'Donnell and Jordi Murphy in the backrow. I thought that those guys would be going out and absolutely destroying everything in front of them. I think Tommy O'Donnell caught a ball off the kick-off and he just ambled back into contact and then Ireland cleared their lines.
I was thinking "Jeez, this guy is fighting for a place on the plane here. 'Give me the ball!'
If that was me and I was in that same position as him I would be running 100mph to try and get a gain line, make an impact on the game, and set ourselves a standard that had been missing in the 40 minutes before that carry.
"I know it was a test match against Italy but being at the game, the atmosphere, the standard of the rugby and the amount of mistakes - both teams seemed happy enough to get 80 minutes of test rugby under their belt. "
While the result may not be hugely important this week, Ferris is more worried about the nature of the performance: "Lads this weekend have really got to step it up another 10-15% in my eyes and if they don't they could be on the end of a bit of a beating because England seem to be back to their physical best. "
He's also looking for something different in attack, whether it manifests itself in the warm-up games or when they reach Japan:
If they don't change their gameplan from what they had in the Six Nations then, in my personal opinion, it's not going to be a very successful World Cup because they do need to change what they were doing last season. They just can't keep running into brick walls against big, physical, strong teams.
I think Joe Schmidt's a very shrewd coach and he has shown how good he's been over the last number of years for Ireland and I think come the World Cup, Ireland are going to show something different and they have to show something different.
There has been an air of gloom around Irish rugby of late, including Will Greenwood declaring that Ireland won't get past the quarter-finals, but Ferris is still optimistic about their chances:
"They're not far away but they've got to start hitting their straps, if that's this week or in a couple of week's time. For me, personally, I've been in those guys' shoes, I just hope they put in good performances over the next few weeks and hit the ground running when it comes to Japan. If they can do that and get to a semi-final then that [Six Nations and setbacks] will all be quickly forgotten."
You can listen to the full interview with Stephen below or subscribe to The Buildup podcast here for the full show, where we also preview the weekend's Premier League action, the LGFA All-Ireland semi-finals and the Tour Championship.