Ireland captain Rory Best says his team are ready to defend their crown as they face England in the Six Nations opener.
Saturday’s match pits second against fourth in the world rankings, with Ireland the current favourites after their stunning autumn win over the All Blacks.
Success has bred confidence and Best says this is the best Irish side he’s been part of, as the Ulsterman goes in to his fifteenth test match against England.
The English have suggested they’ll outpower Ireland - but the reigning Six Nations champions have their own big hitters too.
“You can call it bullying, you can call it front foot, that’ll be part of their game plan there’s no doubt,” said Best.
“Obviously part of our game plan will be to get ourselves on the front foot and I think we play best when we’re there, we’re comfortable when we’re there and that is going to be a massive facet of this game, who can win that arm wrestle up front.”
And while Ireland will no doubt take confidence from recent results, Best believes they must continue to raise the bar.
“Six Nations rugby is different to the autumn internationals,” he said.
“The autumn internationals is playing a team a little bit unknown - Argentina, New Zealand, we know them and we study them but we don’t play against them in Europe, you’re not very close neighbours
“This is a competition, this is a championship and all of that squeezes the pressure on you and creates a different sort of atmosphere and probably means you have to play to a higher level that you did in November.”
If you’re not going to the match you can watch it live on UTV - coverage starts at 4pm ahead of the 4.45pm kick-off.