Having lost their opening games both Ireland and Italy lock horns with each other at Stadio Olimpico on Saturday to get their Six Nations campaign on track. Here are few of the key points.
THE CONOR O'SHEA FACTOR
Former Ireland full-back Conor O'Shea will coach a Test team against his homeland for the first time. O'Shea's passion and acumen have led captain Sergio Parisse to give the new boss his full seal of approval. The veteran number eight believes O'Shea can transform Italy's fortunes both on and off the field. O'Shea has insisted he will treat this clash like any other, but the former Harlequins boss will doubtless struggle to contain his emotions.
CAN RORY BEST WIN HIS FITNESS RACE?
Ireland skipper Rory Best missed Friday's captain's run training session due to a stomach bug. Team bosses remain confident the 34-year-old will be fit to start on Saturday afternoon, but the Ulster man is a definite doubt. Jamie Heaslip would captain Ireland in Best's absence, with Niall Scannell starting at hooker and James Tracy being drafted onto the bench. Ireland will give Best every chance to prove his fitness, potentially delaying a final decision until Saturday morning.
TIME FOR IRELAND TO MOVE PAST 'BUSGATE'
Ireland's team bus was 15 minutes late arriving at Murrayfield last weekend, ahead of the Scotland loss. The issue has been continually raised all week, long after the actual delay's impact had dissipated. Ireland boss Joe Schmidt admitted his players were anxious at having to rush through their warm-up. Schmidt has challenged his players to react far more quickly to unforeseen setbacks. The disruption over Best's illness qualifies as an immediate test. The boss will be expecting a more measured reaction this weekend.
CAN PADDY JACKSON FILL JOHNNY SEXTON'S SHOES?
Ireland maintain that Johnny Sexton will be fit to face France in Dublin on February 25. The British and Irish Lions fly-half remains sidelined with calf trouble for the Italy clash, however, handing Ulster's Jackson another start. Jackson stood up solidly enough in Scotland but must now take his game to another level to start heaping intense pressure on Sexton's starting berth.
CAN ITALY FOLLOW UP THEIR AUTUMN WIN OVER SOUTH AFRICA?
Captain Parisse has admitted Italy would need another "miracle" victory to rival their 20-18 win over South Africa in November to beat Ireland this weekend. But the 33-year-old remains buoyed by new boss O'Shea's infectious confidence. Parisse insists Italy can start achieving their aims with extra belief, hoping for a more positive showing against the Irish than in the 33-7 home loss to Wales.
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