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Will Irish Eyes Be Smiling?

This weekend has taken on the feel of a cup final with the winner of the game on Sunday between Ireland and England becoming the only team left who can grasp the big prize of a Grand Slam.  As you may have gathered I just love the Six Nations - I think it is a glorious competition which so often throws up unexpected victories and losses and it is rare so early in the competition to have two contenders already out of the running for the Grand Slam.

Both Ireland and England may have to rejig their midfields with the long serving D'Arcy picking up an injury and the hugely talented Manu Tuilagi coming back for England.  It is, as they say,  a nice headache for England coach Stuart Lancaster and as I know from talking to people there are many opinions which two centres should start out of three very good players.   Lancaster will have a game plan and although he may not let the outside world know he will have good reasons for whoever he selects.  It is definitely not simple as just for example although Twelvetrees was superb last week it is difficult to drop the defensive captain Barritt when up against an attack that includes the twinkle toes and quick thinking of a certain Mr O Driscoll.  Losing Ben Morgan our big strong running number 8 to injury means another enforced change but I suspect James Haskell will be the man in the back row on the back of a good performance.  The best thing about this current England team and what excites me is the competition for places and that when our bench came on last week everyone of them was test quality.  Lancaster may also choose to keep young tyro Billy Vunipola in the squad to be a replacement which could mean yet another 20 year old getting a taste of the big games.

Make no mistake this will be a hard game for England having not won away to Ireland in the Six Nations for ten years but this team to me seem fully capable of ignoring history and creating an upset.  For Ireland we all know their multiple threats from the rampaging Jamie Heaslip, rapid wingers Zebo and Gilroy to the intelligence and skill of fly half Jonny Sexton.  If Ireland win on Saturday the Aviva stadium will erupt and Irish eyes will be looking ahead to that Grand Slam title.