Ireland and Scotland will be hoping to begin the new season with a victory when they meet each other in the second game of the upcoming Six Nations tournament at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday.
The game will also be the first for Andy Farrell has full time head coach of Ireland with Joe Schmidt stepping down at the end of the World Cup last year. Jonathan Sexton, who hasn't played a competitive game since sustaining a knee injury in December will captain the side taking over from Rory Best while former Ireland U20 captain Caelan Doris is set to make his debut at number eight. Ireland had a mixed last year but will be hoping to repeat their Grand Slam success that came in 2018.
Scotland came off a disappointing World Cup campaign where they failed to make it to the quarter-finals after a defeat to Japan in the decisive game and they have to deal with the loss of their star fly-half Finn Russell, who was sanctioned following a breach of team protocol. On rhythm, the dark blues can compete with any team but gaining momentum will be the key as Gregor Townsend has his task cut out.
Date and Time: 1st February, Saturday, 4:45pm local
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Broadcasters: ITV Sport, france.2, Virgin Media, DMax, NBC Sports
Recent Performances: Barring a shocking defeat to Japan, Ireland had a decent performance in the opening stage of the World Cup last year with three wins from four games but their campaign was ended with a 46-14 defeat to New Zealand in the quarter-final while Scotland failed to make it to the knock-out with defeats against Ireland and Japan.
Head to Head Record: The two teams have neck to neck battle in their head to head record with Scotland winning 67 games and Ireland emerging victorious 64 times while five finished in a draw.
Starting Line-up: 15 Jordan Larmour, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Jonathan Sexton (c), 9 Conor Murray, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 CJ Stander, 5 James Ryan, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Cian Healy
Replacements: 16 Ronan Kelleher, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Andrew Porter, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Peter O’Mahony, 21 John Cooney, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Robbie Henshaw
Forwards: Simon Berghan, Jamie Bhatti, Magnus Bradbury, Fraser Brown, Alex Craig, Luke Crosbie, Scott Cummings, Allan Dell, Cornell du Preez, Zander Fagerson, Grant Gilchrist, Tom Gordon, Jonny Gray, Nick Haining, Stuart McInally, Willem Nel, Jamie Ritchie, Rory Sutherland, Ben Toolis, George Turner. Hamish Watson
Backs: Darcy Graham, Chris Harris, Adam Hastings, Stuart Hogg, George Horne, Rory Hutchinson, Sam Johnson, Huw Jones, Blair Kinghorn, Sean Maitland, Byron McGuigan, Ali Price, Henry Pyrgos, Finn Russell, Matt Scott, Kyle Steyn, Ratu Tagive
“We’ve got a very competitive squad and the lads have been in great form so it’s always going to be difficult. You’ve got to make a decision and we’ve got a hell of a team going into Scotland," Ireland head coach Andy Farrell.
“The door is open for any player. Obviously he is unavailable not because of injury, he is not available because of what went on and there has got to be a link to where he would be in terms of: ‘Is he with the team?," Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend on Finn Russell.