There are two debutants today and they both happen to be No 8s – but whereas Caelan Doris has come through that well-established development pathway of Blackrock College, the Leinster Academy and the Leinster senior side, Scotland’s new face is a bolter from the blue.
For a coach still only weeks into his Munster tenure, Graham Rowntree’s affinity with his new surroundings is clear and obvious. Yet the forwards coach also knows that while his connection to the province and the players he works with has been immediate, the task of getting it and them to where they need to be will require patience and a lot more time.
This World Cup serves to remind us that previous form or results counts for little. The fact that Ireland had won two of their previous encounters against New Zealand only handed Steve Hansen and his coaching staff a template to beat us when it mattered most.
Maybe it says everything about the way the All Blacks are that the day after they learned their final pool game against Italy had been cancelled, they woke up super early and battered themselves senseless in a training game.
Since the advent of professionalism and the rise in the status of the Rugby World Cup after its rushed introduction in 1987 against the wishes of the four unions in Britain and Ireland, the sport at international level now tends to operate in four-year cycles.
Having established that today’s summer showdown at Twickenham is about as far removed from a “warm-up” as a summer showdown can be, both the English and Irish camps have also made clear that this is a Test match that dare not be treated in isolation of the bigger picture.
Stephen Larkham has been labelled a “signature signing” for Munster and one that can help the province’s talented backline to click and the team to reconnect with a style that delivered a pair of Heineken Cups.
The world-leading coach educator Wayne Goldsmith has worked with everyone from the All Blacks to the US Olympic swimming team of Phelps and Lochte and the top sides in the AFL, but his driving passion as he visits Ireland is that parents and coaches at the grassroots help keep kids playing and enjoying sport