It's the Six Nations, it's England, it's showdown time
Jerome Garces, in only his second Six Nations game, is particularly hot at the breakdown on players not releasing the ball or the tackler not rolling away.
Like most French referees, he doesn’t tend to have many re-sets, preferring penalties.
“The breakdown,” replied Kidney when asked the key to tomorrow’s game, adding: “a fair competition at the breakdown and being allowed to compete for it. I think that will be a big thing.”
The state of the pitch is a concern too, though the kickers have reported “a good head of grass”, which may make it less of an issue for a rugby match.
Owen Farrell’s place-kicking is extraordinary, and he is maturing rapidly, but for all their heavyweight power and carrying, and rapid quick recycling, England have less subtlety and variety to their attacking game.
Power up front
There are caveats, beyond England’s power up front, such as, perhaps, the question mark over Ireland’s ability to last 80 minutes after the trying last half-hour against Wales, even if that may have a flip side.
“It made us dig deep into our tank of confidence in ourselves, really tested our mentality when our backs were against the wall, so hopefully it will stand to us this weekend,” ventured Jamie Heaslip yesterday.
Whereas England’s starting line-up has 242 caps, Ireland’s has 532, and so England’s youthful vigour and impact off the bench is countered by Ireland’s experience and it could be that at key moments, key men such as Rory Best, Heaslip, Jonny Sexton and O’Driscoll will do the right thing at the right time.
The bookies can’t call it, and while there have been occasional freaks such as last season or the Croke Park 30-point win, this has all the makings of another tight one.
Aviva teams: How they line out
15 Rob Kearney (Leinster)
14 Craig Gilroy (Ulster)
13 Brian O’Driscoll (Leinster)
12 Gordon D’Arcy (Leinster)
11 Simon Zebo (Munster)
10 Jonathan Sexton (Leinster)
9 Conor Murray (Munster)
1 Cian Healy (Leinster)
2 Rory Best (Ulster)
3 Mike Ross (Leinster)
4 Mike McCarthy (Connacht)
5 Donnacha Ryan (Munster)
6 Peter O’Mahony (Munster)
7 Seán O’Brien (Leinster)
8 Jamie Heaslip (Leinster,capt)
Replacements: S Cronin (Leinster), D Kilcoyne (Munster), D Fitzpatrick (Ulster), D O’Callaghan (Munster), C Henry (Ulster), E Reddan (Leinster), R O’Gara (Munster), K Earls (Munster).
15 Alex Goode (Saracens)
14Chris Ashton (Saracens)
13 Brad Barritt (Saracens)
12 Billy Twelvetrees (Gloucester)
11 Mike Brown (Harlequins)
10 Owen Farrell (Saracens)
9 Ben Youngs (Leicester)
1 Joe Marler (Harlequins)
2 Tom Youngs (Leicester)
3 Dan Cole (Leicester)
4 Joe Launchbury (Wasps)
5 Geoff Parling (Leicester)
6 James Haskell (Wasps)
7 Chris Robshaw (Harlequins)
8 Tom Wood (Northampton)
Replacements: D Hartley (Northampton), D Wilson (Bath), M Vunipola (Saracens), C Lawes (Northampton), T Waldrom (Leicester), D Care (Harlequins), T Flood (Leicester), M Tuilagi (Leicester).
Referee: J Garces (Fra)
Asst referees: N Owens (Wal), P Gauzere (Fra).
Aviva Stadium, tomorrow, 3pm On TV: RTÉ 2, BBC 1