Captain Brian O'Driscoll believes the strength of the Irish midfield could prove decisive in their bid to become the first country in RBS 6 Nations history to win back-to-back Grand Slams.
O’Driscoll will start Saturday’s clash at Croke Park alongside Leinster team mate Gordon D’Arcy, with Ulster’s Paddy Wallace named among the replacements.
Wallace had been first choice at inside centre for three of last season’s Six Nations matches but has only just returned from an ankle injury, while D’Arcy is back in favour after overcoming a broken arm.
And with Ireland bidding to become the first team to win back-to-back Grand Slams since the Five Nations became the Six Nations in 2000, the skipper is delighted with the strength in depth at head coach Declan Kidney’s disposal.
“I’m pleased that Gordon is back. It took him a while to get back from that broken arm - he was out for a year,” said O’Driscoll.
“It’s great that he’s hitting form and it’s good to have Paddy playing well also.
“There’s so much competition in the team - it means you always get the best out of one another and ensure complacency doesn’t creep in.
“You just can’t afford to think that the jersey is yours for a full campaign.
“But Gordon has been doing extremely well and is doing what he’s good at.
“One thing that I took on myself last year is to get back to what you’re good at and concentrate on your strengths.
“He’s done that and it’s working for him.”