Trust in BOD and he will deliver.
Brian O’Driscoll’s penultimate game of Test rugby and his last home international on the day he becomes the world’s most capped player. This could be emotional.
There is now a four-way tie at the top of table in what has been a fascinating 2014 renewal of the Six Nations. Crucially Ireland lead the way on points difference and they will look to extend that advantage here against Italy before heading for Paris for their final match next week.
Despite the narrow defeat in Twickenham a fortnight ago, confidence remains high in this Ireland side which continues to show more consistency and variety in their play since Joe Schmidt’s appointment. They go in search of three from three at home against Italy and there is little to suggest they won’t give O’Driscoll the fitting farewell he deserves in his last home international in the green jersey.
From an Italy perspective, you’d expect some sort of reaction from Jacques Brunel’s side after their last gasp defeat to Scotland – their first defeat on home soil to the Scots in eight years.
Italy may have put one over the Irish last year (their first and only win against tomorrow’s opponents since they joined the Championship) but that was against a very different side under a different management team.
Either way, Ireland will want to put that right, as they look to bounce back to winning ways to keep their title ambitions on track. As such, they look a decent bet on the handicap (-15). Italy’s away form offers little hope – they have only tasted victory once away from home in the Six Nations (v Scotland 2007).
Ireland have made one enforced change to the team that lost to England, the not insignificant loss of Peter O’Mahony, as they look to keep their momentum going.
Expect Italy to be competitive for a spell but Ireland to ease to victory in the last 20 minutes in what should be a high-scoring second half. With the BOD factor sure to play its part as Ireland’s great ever player gets a fitting send-off on home soil.
Kick-off is at 2.30pm tomorrow, Saturday, March 8th.