5 Dec, 14:49
The Ireland Under-19 squad to face Australia Schools at Ravenhill on Saturday week (December 14) has been announced.
"We don't plan on being overly physical," he said. "We trained in minus two degrees on Tuesday on rock hard ground... we're just tough.
"We have to keep building on making our tackles and try and be the most physical side in the tournament. I have seen that put into more constructive fashion since I took over and it was proved by the fact our average penalty count against us went down from 24 a match to eight during the World Cup.
"I won't accept yellow cards and ill discipline. I just don't like cheating which was the case with Italy in the past," added Kirwan, who took over from compatriot Brad Johnstone in May 2002.
One person who certainly agrees with Kirwan's prognosis that they are the most physical side is Clive Woodward, coach of their first opponents, world champions England.
"I don't see that playing Italy is any more difficult than playing Australia, especially away from home. They are the most physical team we will play in the Six Nations," said Woodward.
Kirwan, though, is looking for an improvement on last year's Six Nations which saw them record one victory, at home against Wales. "We want to win it because we shouldn't think of it in any other way.
"Realistically I want a home win and an away win and you know I am talking about England and France," he added with a laugh.
Perhaps foremost in his trajectory for the away win which would be their first in the competition should be Wales, who caused him sleepless nights when they ended Italy's chances of progressing to the last eight in the World Cup. "I didn't sleep for two weeks after that defeat," said Kirwan, who won the inaugural World Cup in 1987.
"I must have watched and rewatched that video several hundred times as coaches tend to do. It was a chance to take Italy onto a different plane where they could dream of having as I saw last year 2,000 people turn up just for an All Black training session instead of the two we had at one, and one of those people was walking his dog.
"It really hurt that defeat because of the sacrifices the players had put into making it a successful tournament."
Kirwan is confident a huge upswing in Italian fortunes is on the horizon. "The guys are beginning to believe in themselves and it's not just because we have been voted the best dressed team and captain Andrea Di Rossi the best looking player!
"It is because we have been retaining the ball for longer and improving in the rucks and dominating teams for longer periods of the game. We just need to have the ability to kill them off."
Kirwan, however, believes in a balanced mix of hard training and relaxing off the pitch with the squad which is easier for him than it was for Johnstone as he is a fluent Italian speaker.
"Part of our philosophy is having a good balance. We (the squad) had a bit of a crisis the other night as the wine wasn't very good and when as professionals you aren't allowed more than two glasses that is a real crisis, believe you me."
Two victories in the Six Nations and Kirwan will be saying 'crisis what crisis' no matter how bad the wine is - and you wouldn't bet against it.