Ireland international Simon Zebo has admitted that the reigning Six Nations champions are still finding their feet early in the season but is confident they are moving in the right direction.
The Munster utility player was chosen at full-back by Joe Schmidt and did his World Cup hopes no harm with a man-of-the-match performance in the 28-22 victory over Scotland at the Aviva Stadium.
It was the second successive warm-up win following last week's encounter with Wales at the Millennium Stadium, but the home side were at times lacklustre in a game that often lacked the intensity expected at Test level.
Schmidt will have plenty to pore over in the post-match analysis but Zebo says it can be difficult to hit the ground running after the summer break.
"We’re still a bit rusty, it's still early on," he admitted afterwards. "The first games after the holidays after coming back in are test matches. That's a tough standard to jump straight into, but we're happy with the progress we're making and hopefully we can continue that way."
There was little to choose to between the teams on the day and the Cork native conceded it was a "very hard-fought" win against their Celtic neighbours.
The 25-year-old caught the eye in the number 15 jersey and finished off an excellent counter-attack in the second half to claim his seventh international try but was quick to praise the efforts of his team-mates.
"The players around me did very well," he said.
"When we had the opportunities we got front foot ball. It's mad e a lot easier running off the likes of Ian Madigan, Isaac Boss and Jared Payne and these guys so it makes our job very easy."