Ireland’s calendar for this the 2018 NatWest Six Nations gives them three home games at Aviva Stadium in a row. It’s a schedule which should leave them in a good position for a shot at champions England in their closing fixture at Twickenham on St Patrick’s Day.
The first of the home fixtures comes against an Italian side led by a familiar face, in the shape of former Irish international full back Conor O’Shea, who is their Director of Rugby. Despite recently registering a win against South Africa for the first time in their history, the Azzurri have struggled to pick up victories consistently, and indeed have never won in Ireland in the Six Nations.
Joe Schmidt, meanwhile, will be confident that he has a squad will be capable of getting across the line against the Italians, having a had a successful set of autumn internationals that saw his team produce victories over South Africa, Fiji, and Argentina.