Ireland back-rower Peter O’Mahony has backed playmakers Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton to “look after themselves” against Scotland in their World Cup opener on Sunday.
Scrum-half Murray hit out at Glasgow’s “very dangerous” attempts to take out his standing leg when kicking back in a European clash in January 2017.
Scotland have continually tried to unsettle Ireland’s British and Irish Lions playmaking duo, and Murray’s Munster team-mate O’Mahony fully expects more of the same in Yokohama this weekend.
“Look, it hasn’t come into our thinking. It’s a Test game, half-backs are always targeted,” O’Mahony said.
“Jacob’s already spoken about Finn Russell. If you can get to the other team’s playmakers it gives you advantage and that isn’t something that’s new in Test rugby.
“And it isn’t going to be any different tomorrow. So front-foot ball, solid set-piece, having the ability to get ourselves into the game and starting well is paramount for us.
“So Johnny and the boys are well able to look after themselves.”
#RWC2019 Here's the Ireland team to play @Scotlandteam in our first Pool A game of @rugbyworldcup #ShoulderToShoulder #TeamOfUs pic.twitter.com/cmmDQKjXaO
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) September 20, 2019
Flanker O’Mahony said Ireland had been waiting for this World Cup to kick-off for so long their eagerness for a strong start had hit fever pitch.
Ireland suffered a record 57-15 loss to England at Twickenham just last month, but responded positively with back-to-back victories over Wales.
Joe Schmidt’s side enter this tournament as the world’s No 1 ranked team.
But while New Zealand remain the bookmakers’ favourites for a third consecutive World Cup triumph, Ireland are keen to show they have peaked at the right time.
Asked if Ireland, and especially the forwards, were ready to hit new heights in Japan, O’Mahony said: “I think you have to think you’re ready, you’ve been waiting for this for a long time.
“It’s the game everyone’s been waiting for. Eighteen months ago we spoke about it briefly, but when you’re playing big tournaments it kind of catches up with you.