It will be tough for them without the experience of Alessandro Troncon at scrum-half as he seemed to be able to galvanise the team, but they must not be written off. Their pack is a formidable group and if you look at the clubs those players are representing, for example Martin Castrogiovanni is at Leicester and captain Sergio Parisse is at Stade Francais, you can see that they are playing for some of the top clubs in European rugby and are used to playing to a high standard and a high intensity every week.
For Ireland this game represents a chance to blow away the memories of the World Cup and to get the feel-good factor back. They are not a bad side and they have more than enough talent to have a real impact in the RBS 6 Nations. Some of our key players are getting back to their best and if the combinations up front and behind the scrum click then Ireland could well win this game with something to spare, which, to be honest, is what I expect to happen.