Ireland defence coach Les Kiss has invited Scotland to target Ronan O’Gara in Sunday’s RBS 6 Nations showdown at Murrayfield.
O’Gara is expected to replace the injured Jonathan Sexton at fly-half when head coach Declan Kidney names his team for the trip to Edinburgh at lunchtime today.
The out-of-form 35-year-old has a reputation for defensive frailty, but Kiss is only too happy for the Scots to attack the 10 channel.
“Most teams will target the half-backs. Since I’ve been in charge of defence my motto has been ’Let them have a go because it’s fools gold a lot of the time’,” Kiss said
“It can actually set the opposition up to go down a path that we want them to go down. If Ronan is starting for us, then let them go there.
“We believe in what we have in the squad. Our defence is strong across the park, so we invite them to attack where they want.”
Ireland’s injury and disciplinary problems mean that there will be at least five changes to the side defeated 12-6 by England.
Prop Cian Healy is suspended so either David Kilcoyne or Tom Court will be asked to perform the loosehead duties.
Uncapped Ulster centre Luke Marshall is the favourite to fill in for Gordon D’Arcy, while Donncha O’Callaghan will partner Donnacha Ryan in the second row - if the latter recovers from his back problem.
The last guaranteed change will come on the left wing with Keith Earls favourite to replace Simon Zebo.
D’Arcy and Zebo have been ruled out of the remainder of the Six Nations with foot injuries, Sexton has a hamstring problem and lock Mike McCarthy is battling knee ligament damage.
Ireland know that defeat to Scotland would end their faint title hopes, but Kiss insists victory would thrust them straight back into contention.
“It’s time to step forward and face the next challenge because you can’t look too far behind in this competition,” he said.
“Right now the Six Nations is in a precarious situation for a lot of teams. There’s no done deal on what’s going to happen. If we get it right this weekend, we’ll be in a strong position heading into the France game.”