Crowning glory:  Ireland  celebrate with the  Six Nations trophy and the Triple Crown  after the victory over England at Twickenham Stadium. Photograph:  Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Test series win in Southern Hemisphere a natural next target for Schmidt’s squad

Nine Irish players have been included in our team of the tournament. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire.

After a Six Nations that will go down in the annals of history, Gerry Thornley selects his XV

The Ireland team celebrate with the NatWest Six Nations trophy and the Triple Crown trophy after their match against England at Twickenham. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Grand Slam win puts the final stamp of greatness on this world-class Ireland squad

CJ Stander scores Ireland’s second try in the NatWest Six Nations Championship match against England at Twickenham. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Grand Slam victory a tribute to a resilient squad that was willing to work for each other

Ireland rugby team’s Jonathan Sexton and Rory Best with the Six Nations trophy and the Triple Crown. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/©INPHO

Snow and a cancelled homecoming party fail to dampen the spirits of the Irish squad

Johnny Sexton and Rory Best arrive home to Ireland with the  Six Nations trophy and the Triple Crown.  Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland have cemented their status as world number two team, but they’re not sated yet

 Ireland’s Jacob Stockdale makes history with Ireland’s third  try at Twickenham. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

History made as Joe Schmidt’s Green Machine secure Grand Slam at Twickenham

Ireland celebrate at the full-time whistle  after defeating England  at Twickenham Stadium on February 27, 2010. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Ahead of today’s showdown, we look at Ireland’s nine Six Nations games at the stadium

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt at the Ireland squad  Captain’s Run at Twickenham on Friday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

This could be one of the three best days in the history of Irish rugby – or simply the best

Rory Best: “We expect them to do what they have been doing and that is producing big performances, they’ve done it over the last couple of years and we expect nothing less.”

“It’s not just the playing group, it’s the coaches, the management, everyone strives for perfection”

Ultan Dillane and Tadhg Furlong during a maul at Ireland’s training session at Carton House. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Henderson the only change to starting Ireland XV as Jones opts for radical surgery

Devin Toner’s ability to disrupt the opposition lineout could see him keep his starting place for the Six Nations clash against England at Twickenham. Photograph:  Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Joe Schmidt expected to name an unchanged 23 as players enter grand bonus territory

Ireland’s CJ Stander celebrates with wife Jean-Marie after victory over Scotland in the Six Nations Championship match at the  Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Photograph:  Bryan Keane/Inpho

South African-born forward expects England backlash after their defeats to Scotland and France

Ireland skills and kicking coach Richie Murphy at a press conference at  Carton House, Co Kildare. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Skills coach Richie Murphy says outhalf’s off-field distractions help his overall game

Ireland’s Jacob Stockdale celebrates scoring one of his two tries against Scotland. This Irish team has already scored five more tries than the 2009 Grand Slam winners.    Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA

Team has produced exciting rugby and scored a whopping total of 17 tries so far

Rob Kearney is tackled by  Scotland’s Blair Kinghorn: The fullback has played a key role in four championship wins plus a Grand Slam. Photograph:  Tom Honan.

Phenomenal feat by fullback who started all 19 matches in four successful campaigns

Scotland’s Ryan Wilson and man of the match, Ireland’s Rob Kearney, contest an aerial ball during the Six Nations clash at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpo ane

Historic opportunity beckons at Twickenham as Schmidt’s Irish machine rolls on

 Ireland players celebrate after Sean Cronin scored their side’s fourth try during the victory over  Scotland at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph:  Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Victory at Twickenham would see Ireland emulate Grand Slam teams of 1948 and 2009

Ireland’s Jacob Stockdale scores one of his two  tries during the  Six Nations match against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph:  Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Jacob Stockdale continues incredible try-scoring exploits with two in win over Scotland

Ireland’s flanker Dan Leavy reacts his side’s defeat of France at the Stade de France in Paris. Photograph:   Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images

Since his Junior Cup days, the talented Ireland flanker’s ability on the field has stood out

Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong (centre) during the captain’s run at The Aviva Stadium,

Scotland unlikely to be able to match Ireland’s physicality and intensity over 80 minutes

Joe Schmidt  gave short shrift to there being any issue about Johnny Sexton’s goal-kicking in the light of one rare and relative off -day against Wales. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

France would need to deny England in Paris but it could be all over this weekend

James Ryan: “There is more expected of you at this level. The game itself, it’s quicker . . .The physicality is huge. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Leinster man’s skill set and attitude perfectly suited to Schmidt’s Ireland set-up

Chris Farrell and Garry Ringrose: the latter is expected to replace the injured Munster centre in the Ireland team to play Scotland at the  Aviva Stadium on Saturday.  Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Tadhg Furlong and Iain Henderson to return, Garry Ringrose set to replace Chris Farrell

Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton arrives for a  training session at Carton House.  Photograph:  Brian Lawless/PA

But Brian O’Driscoll says players will be ‘100 per cent’ focused on the ultimate goal

Ireland’s Jack McGrath, Cian Healy, Tadhg Furlong and John Ryan. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Next season Joe Schmidt could have 10 props with Test match experience at his disposal

Finn Russell: backed himself in the crucial moments which helped fashion a famous victory over England at Murrayfield. Photograph: Craig Watson/Inpho

Outhalf showed against England he has the ability to change a game in an instant

Sam Arnold: “I might not have the Irish accent but I would do absolutely everything if I did get the opportunity to wear the jersey.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Training with Ireland a boost after injuries and suspension derailed Munster man’s season

Joe Schmidt: “It would be fantastic if that [the Grand Slam]  was something we managed to do but it would be really special if we managed to get three championships in five years.” Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Coach says win over Scots would go a long way to sealing third championship in five years

Chris Farrell in action  during his man-of-the-match display at the Aviva Stadium. He twisted his knee during training at the same venue yesterday. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Leinster man now poised to partner Aki in Irish midfield against Scotland

Ireland players  celebrate Jacob Stockdale’s second try against Wales. Ireland’s backline are significantly taller and heavier than their 2009 counterparts on the team which won the Grand Slam.  Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpoh

Formidable Ireland now in a strong position to reclaim Six Nations title from England

Jamie Heaslip celebrates following the victory over New Zealand at Soldier’s Field, Chicago in 2016. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Durable athlete was Mr Indestructible and scaled so many heights during a glorious career

Ireland’s Jacob Stockdale  scores his side’s fourth try past Wales’ Leigh Halfpenny  during the Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin.

Johnny Sexton shows mental strength with outstanding all-round game to secure bonus-point victory over Wales

 Jonathan Sexton and Conor Murray celebrate Dan Leavy’s try against Wales at the Aviva. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Joe Schmidt frets over defensive frailty against Wales that may be exposed by Scots

 Jacob Stockdale scores the clinching try in overtime. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Grand Slam dream remains on course - but only just after epic battle in Dublin

Ireland’s  Chris Farrell is tackled by Ben Volavola of Fiji during his international debut last  autumn. Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Six Nations debut the latest test for Tyrone man who has embraced every challenge to date

Ireland players at the captain’s run in the Aviva Stadium, Dublin. Photograph: ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Joe Schmidt’s men will have to stay focused to overcome a confident Welsh team

Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton receives attention during the Captain’s Run. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Ireland outhalf needed treatment on his back before Friday's Captain’s Run

Joe Schmidt addresses his players during a squad session at Carton House, Co Kildare. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland coach admits frustration over accusations attack lacks cutting edge

Ireland’s Bundee Aki takes a picture with his six-year-old daughter Adrianna and members of the extended Aki  family after the victory over South Africa at the Aviva. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Like a true Schmidt disciple, Aucklander driven by constant search for improvement

Ireland tighthead prop   Andrew Porter played 76 minutes against Italy at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Tadhg Furlong likely to be ruled out with hamstring injury

Andy Farrell: “If something is not up to scratch and it is not good enough you need to be honest about that.” Photograph: Laszlo GeczoInpho

More expansive Wales style will be a threat despite familiarity of coaches on both sides

 Dan Biggar: the outhalf’s return should improve Wales’ aerial game.  Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Warren Gatland admits Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray will be put under pressure

Gareth Anscombe: was denied a perfectly legitimate try against England when it was ruled out by the New Zealand TMO Glenn Newman. Photograph: Glyn Kirk/AFP/Getty

Back to full strength, Gatland’s underdogs will be confident they have Ireland’s measure

Gary Ringrose: has linked up with the Ireland squad following his recovery from injury. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

But Chris Farrell remains the favourite to replace the injured Henshaw against Wales

Ireland’s Luke McGrath will miss the rest of the Six Nations campaign. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Meanwhile, Garry Ringrose will return to link up with Ireland squad on Monday evening

Warren Gatland: Kiwi has come a long way in the game since he launched his coaching career as a player-coach with Galwegians in 1989.  Photograph: Getty.

From club level up to Lions’ tours, Wales’ head coach has enjoyed substantial success

Conor Murray poses for photos with fans during Ireland’s training session at Buccaneers RFC in Atholone. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Managing midfield permutations nothing new for coach Joe Schmidt in his 52-game reign

Tadhg Furlong ran at ‘75 per cent’ in Athlone on Thursday, according to Ireland coach Joe Schmidt. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland coach says Lions prop could return to full training as early as next Tuesday

Italy have unearthed a gem in fulllback Matteo Minozzi. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Bradley and Aboud also playing key roles in the restoration of Azzurri rugby

Ireland’s Tadhg Furlong leave the field with a suspected hamstring  injury during the game against Italy  at the Aviva Stadium.  Brian Lawless/PA

Table leaders have momentum but injuries a real concern in advance of Wales game

 Jacob Stockdale gets past Jayden Hayward of Italy on his way to scoring Ireland’s  eight try at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Restorative outing for Ireland’s attack as tries mount up against outclassed visitors

Ireland’s Keith Earls claims a crossfield kick during the Six Nations match against Italy at the Avaiva stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Tadhg Furlong and Robbie Henshaw in doubt for remainder of Six Nations

Jack Conan: “I worked hard in those early years because I knew I was behind other people. I knew I needed to work harder to get where I wanted to go.”  Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Leinster stalwart looking forward to locking horns with revered Italian No 8 Sergio Parisse

Keith Earls: will be expecting to be part of a potent Ireland backline against Italy at the  Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Superior armoury at Schmidt’s disposal should become evident as game evolves

Jack McGrath, Johnny Sexton and Andrew Porter train at Carton House, Co Kildare. Photograph: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Ireland coach is taking nothing for granted ahead of second Six Nations clash

Rob Kearney and Tadhg Furlong celebrate Ireland’s  dramatic late win over France in Paris. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Result shows that Ireland ‘are going to work hard no matter how ominous the situation’

Jack Conan is expected to make his Six Nations debut against Italy on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium  at number eight. Photograph by Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Jordan Larmour and Andrew Porter in line to make Six Nations debuts from the bench

Jordan Larmour during training. Skills and kicking coach Richie Murphy said he’s “learning very quickly”. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland kicking coach Richie Murphy says Leinster youngster ‘very close’ to being ready

Ireland’s Keith Earls  is tackled by France’s  Henry Chavancy  and Geoffrey Palis at  the Stade de France. “It’s a crazy game. It does strange things to you. ” Photograph: Voan Valat/EPA

Munster stalwart says Foley’s death has taught him to keep rugby in perspective

France’s Antoine Dupont lies on the pitch after being injured during the Six Nations game  between France and Ireland at the Stade de France. Photograph: Christophe Simon/AFP/Getty Images

Independent match doctor ruled Antoine Dupont required assesment

 Jonathan Sexton  leaves the field after  scoring a 42-metre drop goal against France. He is crucial to Ireland’s success in the Six Nations. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Drop goal against France is probably his most memorable moment in a green jersey

Ireland outhalf Jonathan Sexton  celebrates with Ireland centre Bundee Aki after scoring a drop goal to beat France 15-13 in their Six Nations opener at the Stade de France in Paris. Photograph:  Thomas Samson/AFP/Getty Images

Coach says it was a feeling of relief more than anything else when Sexton kicked over

Ireland’s Bundee Aki is tackled by France’s Matthieu Jalibert  of France  in the Six Nations round one match on Saturday. Jalibert partially ruptured a knee ligament in the tackle. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Jacques Brunel acknowledges Ireland’s effort and match-winning drop goal by Sexton

 Johnny Sexton kicks the winning drop goal in the last play of the game to give Ireland a 15-13 victory at the Stade de France, Paris. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Joe Schmidt admits French work rate left his side scrambling in the final moments

Johnny Sexton kicks the winning drop goal. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Magnificent drop goal deep into added time gets Ireland out of jail against France

Ireland captain Rory Best practices his lineout throws during the Captain’s Run at Stade de France in Paris yesterday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Brunel's wunderkind Matthieu Jalibert could cause an upset against Schmidt’s side

 Joe Schmidt during the captain’s run in Paris. Photgraph:  Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

Irish coach speaks exclusively to Gerry Thornley on the joy and loneliness of his job

Ireland’s Rory Best speaks at a press conference ahead of the Six Nations match against France. Photo: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Ireland captain was speaking in Paris ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations meeting with France

James Ryan in training ahead of Ireland’s Six Nations clash with France. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland coach says now is the time to give the 21-year-old Leinster lock a ‘challenge’

Bordeaux-Begles’ French flyhalf Matthieu Jalibert  scoring a try against Agen  in the Top 14 clash  at the Chaban-Delmas stadium in Bordeaux. Photograph: Nicolas Tucat/AFP/Getty

Nineteen-year-old Bordeaux Begles outhalf only started first Top 14 game in November

The anticipated selection of  James Ryan in the Ireland team to face France  is a long-term investment with the 2019 World Cup in mind. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

No room for Jordan Larmour with Seán Cronin and Fergus McFadden on bench

France’s Maxime Médard clashes with Tadhg Furlong at Stade de France in 2016. Away wins are hard to come by in the Six Nations – which rarely follows preordained scripts. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Back-to-back champions England entitled to be favourites to retain the trophy

Conor O’Shea: 'I believe you can win any game at any time. It doesn’t matter what sport, because it’s two teams.' Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty

Head coach remains positive despite Italy’s current low place in the pecking order

France flyhalf Anthony Belleau in action against South Africa in November. Belleau is among the youngsters in the squad that could pose a threat in the Six Nations. Photograph:  Philippe Lopez/AFP/Getty Images

Les Bleus enter contest on back of seven winless matches but are boosted by new coach

England head coach Eddie Jones: The possibility of England and Ireland meeting in the Six Nations’s final game with the title on the line appeals to him.  Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

England coach plays down his side’s chances as they bid for third Championship in a row

Ireland  coach Joe Schmidt  noted that this was the youngest Ireland squad for a Six Nations in his time at the helm. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Jacques Brunel's revamped France will offer real test in Ireland's Six Nations opener

Jordan Larmour with Robbie Henshaw during Leinster’s win in Motpellier. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ireland coach says selecting Scarlets secondrow Tadhg Beirne is ‘complicated’

Munster  celebrate as James Cronin scores a try against Castres  Olympique at Thomond Park. Photograph: Dan Sheriedan/Inpho

Champions Cup pool results show Celtic teams can match Anglo-French big guns

Simon Zebo runs in a try for Munster against Castres. The winger would be part of Ireland’s Six Nations squad if it was picked on merit. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Form of flying backs illustrates Munster’s major improvement from last year

Dave Kilcoyne suffered a knee injury early in Munster’s 48-3 European Champions Cup win over Castres at Thomond Park on Sunday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

James Cronin replaces injured team-mate with Joe Schmidt’s squad set to enjoy warm weather training

Munster’s Simon Zebo scores a try against Castres at Thomond Park. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Leo Cullen’s men host champions Saracens while Toulon travel to Thomond Park

Munster’s Jean Kleyn is tackled by Castres’ Tudor Stroe and Daniel Kotze at Thomond Park. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Munster lock relishing the prospect of taking on Toulon in the quarter final at Thomond

Simon Zebo leaves the pitch after Munster’s 48-3 win over Castres. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Castres blown away after delayed kick-off as province set-up Toulon quarter-final clash

Munster’s Jean Kleyn scores his sides first try against Racing at the U Arena in Paris. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

‘I know my skill set has probably doubled since I’ve come over here’ says South African

Peter O’Mahony: “Momentum is a huge factor to their [Castres] game and it is something that is difficult to stop when they get it.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

In-form Castres not the rank outsiders the bookies’ odds would suggest

Peter O’Mahony: “We’ve got to go and win at the weekend and it’s going to be massively difficult because they’re  such a good side.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Munster and Ulster seeking to join tournament favourites Leinster in quarter-finals

Conor Murray attempted three penalties from around half-way against Racing 92, scoring one. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Fresh attacking plays and a kicking role are being embraced by Munster scrumhalf

Gerbrandt Grobler: Munster player finds himself in the eye of the storm over his ban for knowingly taking performance enhancing drugs while in South Africa. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

A four- or five-year ban would both be more fitting and act as more of a deterrent

RFU chief executive Philip Browne (left) with Martin Murphy (stadium director) and FAI chief executive John Delaney at the Aviva Stadium yesterday, where the naming rights were extended for a further five years. Photograph: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Union chief says having a policy on signing such players should be considered

 Gerbrandt Grobler during a Munster training session  this week. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

IRFU insist player deserves a second chance but will review policy of signing dopers

 Gerbrandt Grobler in action for Munster ‘A’ last weekend. Photograph: Daniel Matthams/Inpho

‘As far as we’re concerned he’s done his time and that’s the end of it’

 Peter O’Mahony  in action against Racing 92 last weekend. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Munster captain a doubt for final pool game against Castres

 Jordan Larmour: impressive form with Leinster could see him win a place in Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad for the opening two Six Nations games. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Carbery, Keatley, Van der Flier and Murphy all likely to be included too by by Schmidt

Munster coach Johann van Graan and CJ Stander after their 30-34 defeat to Racing. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Coach’s focus on improving province’s attacking and passing game is starting to pay off

Tommy Bowe scores Ireland’s fourth try during the Rugby World Cup game against Romania at Wembley Stadium in September 2015. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ulster star won 69 Ireland caps and played five Tests for the Lions

Racing’s Virimi Vakatawa and Donnacha Ryan tackle Simon Zebo of Munster. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ryan did more to deny his former club than any of his new Racing teammates

Racing’s Dimitri Szarzewski scores a try against Munster during their European Champions Cup tie at U Arena, Paris, France. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Leinster seal place in last eight of Champions Cup and ensure a home quarter-final

Losing bonus point keeps Johann van Graan’s side on top of Pool 4 ahead of final round

Simon Zebo: “My love for Munster could definitely bring me back. I’ve an incredible connection with the supporters around Munster.”  Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Popular figure determined to end his period with Munster by claiming silverware

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