The Six Nations kick of tonight at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff as England take on Wales in arguably the most important match of the tournament.
While neither team are regarded as favourites to take the crown, the game is a must win for either to stand any chance in doing just that.
Former England international Lewis Moody, speaking to the Independent, believes defending champions Ireland are the team to beat and should be regarded as the favourites going into the Six Nations.
"Ultimately, the team they and everyone else must beat is Ireland," Moody said. "Their results in the autumn, defeating South Africa and Australia, came because they gave a new breed of player an opportunity to play, and those victories will give them the confidence to carry on.
"In previous years they’d been lacking strength in depth, but look at them now – players like Ian Madigan, Simon Zebo and Luke Fitzgerald. In the second-string match last week, the Irish Wolfhounds versus the England Saxons, half of the Irish XV were full internationals.
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I"t is a side that had spent so long with such a nucleus of senior players, like Brian O’Driscoll, Ronan O’Gara and Peter Stringer, that the new players coming through now have actually been on the fringes of the set-up for a long time, they have experience. That’s a powerful combination."
One to watch
Moody added that Sean O'Brien is worth watching for the Irish.
The 36-year-old continued: "He’s been playing so well, if he can get a start, or just even come off the bench, he will cause problems for any opposition."
The Irish will be keeping a close eye on tonights Millennium Stadium encounter as the winners will fancy their chances to go on and challenge for this years title.
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