Eddie O'Sullivan is fearing a penalty backlash if Ireland's RBS 6 Nations meeting with Scotland falls foul of the new International Rugby Board breakdown laws on Saturday.
The Irish coach - who suffered his first hammer blow of the championship on when captain Brian O'Driscoll was ruled out of the Murrayfield trip with a troublesome hamstring - knows his forwards will have to up the ante at the breakdown battle.
Whereas the Triple Crown winners trumped South Africa in the turnover battle last November, it was the Italian back row - with an average age of 25 - who outgunned them five to four last Saturday in Rome.
John Kirwan's outfit also held the edge in ball won in open play and at set pieces. With the Scots also outdoing their hosts France 10-4 in the turnover tussle in their opener, a worried O'Sullivan has reacted by recalling renowned breakdown hustler Johnny O'Connor to the fray.
''It's a hard enough game when you are playing on adrenaline without worrying about whether you are twisting and turning, and wrongly protecting the ball on the deck.
''They (the laws) were not refereed at the weekend,'' claimed O'Sullivan.
''It's scary because players don't know what they can and can't do in the breakdown - and if they will more-than-likely end up giving away a penalty if they try something.
''But I thought the referees handled it sensibly. Myself and John Kirwan actually spoke to Paddy O'Brien before the game about it and he was being careful about it but he said he would not penalise guys unless they were blatantly protecting the ball when it was at risk.
''I don't know if the referees are going to get hauled over the coals about doing that. They will be assessed and may get hammered for not being more stringent. Maybe this week, they will be.''
One man who could get sucked into the trench warfare is Ireland fly-half Ronan O'Gara. He feels Ireland will have the necessary groundwork done to combat the notoriously up-front Scots.
''It's hard for me to comment really,'' he said.
''The Scots are just ferocious. It's an area for us to work on this week. As long as we don't make the same mistake two weekends in a row - then we have succeeded.''
The 2017 RBS 6 Nations was watched by record numbers of fans
29 March 2017, 12:25pm
After an enthralling RBS 6 Nations Championship of twists, turns, and no small amount of drama on the last day, figures show the RBS 6 Nations is going from strength to strength, year on year, with no sign of slowing down.