After wins for France and England yesterday, all eyes will be on the Aviva Stadium this afternoon as Ireland look to open their 2012 RBS 6 Nations campaign with a home victory over Wales. You can keep up-to-date with the match via our O2 MatchDay Live service right here on IrishRugby.ie.
Ireland will field a team showing three changes to the side that last lined out for a Test, the Rugby World Cup quarter-final defeat to Wales back in October.
Fergus McFadden, who replaces late withdrawal Keith Earls, will don the number 13 jersey in the absence of injured captain Brian O’Driscoll.
Andrew Trimble comes onto the left wing and Jonathan Sexton gets the nod over Ronan O’Gara at out-half where he will win his 25th cap.
Sexton’s half-back partner Conor Murray makes his RBS 6 Nations debut, with experienced lock Paul O’Connell taking on the captaincy duties in an unchanged pack.
There are two potential debutants among the Irish replacements, Peter O’Mahony and David Kearney, with O’Gara standing by to make a record 57th appearance in the Championship.
Wales have made five changes to their starting line-up compared to the side that started in Wellington – Alex Cuthbert is the only change in the back-line, with George North wearing the number 11 shirt that the retired Shane Williams regularly wore.
In the front row, hooker Huw Bennett will make his 50th appearance for his country and Rhys Gill replaces the injured Gethin Jenkins.
Bradley Davies and Ian Evans combine in the second row with former skipper Ryan Jones drafted in on the blindside for the injured Dan Lydiate.
Ireland and Wales have played each other on 117 occasions at Test level. Ireland have had 47 wins to date, the Welsh have been victorious on 64 occasions and there have been six drawn games.
Ireland have not lost an opening round fixture in the Six Nations since they were beaten by France back in 2004. Wales have only won once in Ireland since the inception of the Six Nations, at Croke Park in 2008.
Declan Kidney’s men have lost their last two matches at the Aviva Stadium, against England and France in August. An Irish team has not suffered three defeats in-a-row at the Lansdowne Road venue since 2005.
Kidney’s charges have won four of their last five games, their only slip-up being the 22-10 defeat to the Welsh in the Rugby World Cup. They scored 165 points in those matches, conceding only 56.
We will have live text commentary direct from the Aviva Stadium as the first round of the Championship wraps up with a mouth-watering Celtic derby.
Plug in your laptop or turn on the PC and enjoy a flavour of today’s match live on IrishRugby.ie. There will be full live text and score updates throughout the coverage.
You can watch live TV coverage of the match on RTÉ Two and BBC One. There will be highlights later in the day on Setanta Sports Ireland.
Michael Corcoran will also be providing live commentary of the game on RTÉ Radio 1, with their coverage beginning shortly before kick-off.
Starting at 2.30pm with our pre-match build-up, you can feel part of the action on IrishRugby.ie with MatchDay Live.
Look out for the MatchDay Live button in the Ireland section or simply click on the link below: