It's an early kick-off in Pool A this Sunday as Ireland and Scotland get their campaigns under way.
Ireland and Scotland begin their World Cup adventure in Yokohama on Sunday in game which could decide who finishes top of Pool A, even at this early stage of the tournament.
Joe Schmidt’s Ireland side have endured a pretty rotten run since beating New Zealand last November, but despite some poor performances they enter the World Cup as the world’s number one ranked side.
After being humiliated at Twickenham by England, the men in green regained their confidence with back-to-back victories over Wales, which saw the return of a couple of key men most notably reigning World Player of the Year Johnny Sexton.
But ahead of this crucial clash, Schmidt has been forced to shuffle his pack with injuries to influential backs Robbie Henshaw, Rob Kearney and Keith Earls – all of whom boast a wealth of experience. The exciting Jordan Larmour and Andew Conway will both now get their chance to shine on the biggest stage in rugby.
Gregor Townsend has gone for his tried and tested on the whole, but the midfield see’s Duncan Taylor and Sam Johnson start together for just the second time. Much of Scotland’s success will hinge on the performances of Finn Russell, who was majestic in the epic comeback at Twickenham – if he can fire then this side can trouble anybody.
After exiting the corresponding Six Nations fixture early and missing the rest of the competition, Stuart Hogg is named at full-back in a back three that contains two other British Lions in Sean Maitland and Tommy Seymour.
Conditions look set to be wet and humid in Yokohama and it will be interesting to see how two sides with such contrasting styles handle this.
My only bet for this match centres around Conor Murra,y one of the world’s best scrum-halves, who has a pretty good strike rate against the Scots – with three tries in seven appearances. Close to the line there are not many better number nines at getting low and driving to score.
Given his scoring record and the expected conditions, I like Murray’s sniping ability around the fringes and 5/1 to score anytime looks slightly too big when taking his record into account.