The number two ranked team in the world are viewed by many as the number one right at this moment and this Six Nations campaign will be a stern test of whether they are true contenders for the World Cup later this year.
Joe Schmidt has made the surprise decision to play Robbie Henshaw at full-back against England instead of the slightly undercooked Rob Kearney who needs more game time with Leinster before consideration for the squad again.
This is only Henshaw’s second appearance at full back for his country after his debut against the USA was also in the number 15 shirt.
Up front, the second row is the only place that will have given Schmidt headaches regards selection.
Iain Henderson and Tadgh Beirne are injury absentees so James Ryan and the imperious Devin Toner unite.
Josh van der Flier keeps his place on the openside ahead of Sean O’Brien who returns to the bench following his long term absence from the broken arm he sustained against Argentina in November.
Conor Murray returns to the side at scrum-half and will partner World Player of the Year, Johnny Sexton despite the Leinster fly-half not having played any rugby since December 29th.
Manu Tuilagi is the headline name on the England team sheet and he will be making his first start in the Six Nations since 2013. The Leicester centre will play on the inside of Henry Slade who keeps his place from November.
Owen Farrell will continue at fly-half with George Ford providing back up from the bench.
Elliot Daly continues at Full Back despite the form of Mike Brown who misses out all together from the squad. This may be a gamble from Eddie Jones as Brown is England’s strongest operator under a high ball. Ireland base a lot of their game around Conor Murray’s box kicking and Daly will be tested on a regular basis.
George Kruis is selected next to his Saracens team mate, Maro Itoje whilst two more Sarries, the Vunipola brothers, make a welcome return. Jamie George makes up the final piece of the Saracen’s quintet in the pack at hooker.
The back row is often where games between England and Ireland are won and lost and the pressure will be on Mark Wilson and Tom Curry to perform.
Wilson had a stellar November series but Curry has to step into the injured shoes of Sam Underhill who will be a big loss of power in the back row.
All any rugby fan can really hope for is that this match lives up to the expectancy.
The pressure is starting to mount on Ireland as the World Cup approaches and the big tests are coming thick and fast. There may be a hangover from the New Zealand victory in November but unlike previous Ireland squads they are showing consistency and ruthlessness in abundance.
Their provinces are in fine form and that usually translates on to the international field.
Two heavyweight packs are going to battle it out toe to toe but the experience and quality behind Ireland’s pack will give them the edge.
That said though, if England are still in the game around the 60 minute mark then this game could swing in their favour.
The Red Rose bench looks to have more impact and quality to me which will make for an intriguing climax to this titanic clash.
It’s so very hard to call but I am going to have to let me head rule on this occasion and say that Ireland will scrape it.
IRELAND BY 4