Ireland host England in their final Six Nations match on Saturday with both sides hoping to end on a high note after mixed campaigns.
AFP Sport picks out three key talking points before the game at Lansdowne Road.
Ireland’s last Stander
CJ Stander was born in South Africa but has given his heart and soul in the green jersey of Ireland after qualifying through residency rules.
The 30-year-old will end his career with Ireland with his 51st cap following his shock announcement this week that he would be retiring at the end of the season.
Stander may not be easy on the eye for those who seek crowd-pleasing side-stepping runs but he has put his body on the line.
A try in the Grand Slam-sealing win of 2018 at Twickenham showed he could be there at the business end.
To his team-mates he is indispensable and his departure will leave a huge hole.
Captain Johnny Sexton said Ireland must channel their emotions in order to give Stander a proper send-off.
“Sometimes you can have these big send-offs or big occasions, you know, if it is a 50th or a 100th cap or something and it can get to guys, the emotion can be a bit too much,” said Sexton.
“You have to harness it the right way.”
England out to prove they can build on France win
England have picked up speed as the tournament enters its final stretch and victory over the Irish would confirm they are on the right track.
The team that ended France’s Grand Slam hopes last week were a far cry from the one out-fought by Scotland at the start of the tournament.
Owen Farrell and other Saracens players were ring-rusty coming into the Six Nations, with no club games under their belts after the second-tier Championship was suspended as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Coach Eddie Jones has compared their situation to that at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, where the joy of a semi-final victory over New Zealand was followed by painful defeat in the final against South Africa.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to show that we have learned to keep the noise out, we have learned to understand what the game will present and play the game to the best of our ability, which we weren’t able to do in the World Cup final,” he said.
Stockdale and Daly out to impress
Ireland’s Jacob Stockdale and England’s Elliot Daly can end frustrating Six Nations campaigns by re-establishing their Test credentials.
Stockdale gets his first run-out of the tournament on the wing after missing the first four games with a knee problem.
However, Hugo Keenan has done so well at full-back that the slot originally thought to be Stockdale’s new home has been blocked for the moment.
The 24-year-old gets his chance because of James Lowe’s weakness in defence, although Stockdale has been known to have a few chinks in that department as well.
“We all know how dangerous he is,” said head coach Andy Farrell.
“He makes things happen, he looks really sharp and having been injured has now a good few games (for Ulster) behind him.”
Daly gets a start at outside centre, a position he last played at Test level in 2016, because of an injury to Henry Slade.
Jones has been impressed by the way the 28-year-old reacted to being dropped from the starting line-up for the France game.
“Elliot’s had to dig down deep into himself and find the best of himself,” said Jones.