Preview: Ireland v South Africa
Preview: Ireland v South AfricaSHARE
Paul O'Connell is not there. That is significant for the leadership and heroic determination of the Munsterman mean heaps to Ireland.
He is not there, and the Springboks' job is so much easier. Not that Ireland will be easy.
True they were smashed twice by New Zealand and once by England this year, but there is that match in Christchurch, sandwiched between two hidings, when Ireland were desperately unlucky to lose 19-22 to the mighty All Blacks.
This year they have played eight, beaten Italy and Scotland, drawn with France and lost five.
But in it all there is that match in Christchurch. Ireland are capable of great things – the sort of match they produced against Australia at thew 2011 World Cup.
Not that South Africa have been all that flash.
They played nine, won four, draw two and lost three – to New Zealand and Australia.
Their opposition as been stronger overall than Ireland's, but they are playing in the home of the Irish in a year when the Springboks did not win one of their three away matches.
Mind you, Springboks Ruan Pienaar, Jean de Villiers, Francois Louw, CJ van der Linde and Schalk Brits will not be too unfamiliar with the conditions – the chilly conditions forecast, nothing like summer in South Africa.
It's hard to see the Irish standing up to the power and force of the Springboks but then it's hard to see the Springboks' backs equalling the finesse and vision of the Irish who can turn a match in a moment.
Players to Watch:
For Ireland: Of the Irish Tommy Bowe, the strong, fast Irish wing with an eye to a chance, clever Jonathan Sexton and tough Jamie Heaslip are perhaps most likely to catch the eye and there is also speedy Keith Earls.
For South Africa: Of the Springboks, players to watch may well be JP Pietersen, if he is used, calm, clever Patrick Lambie, varied skills of Francois Louw and the bludgeoning power of Duane Vermeulen, Willem Alberts and Eben Etzebeth – especially Etzebeth.
Head to Head: Tommy Bowe against François Hougaard, so determined and so skilled but playing out of position against a world class wing. Keith Earls against Jaco Taute, such a fine footballer but playing out of position against the most mercurial of the Irish. The big contest could be at flyhalf – a clash of two similar players in Jonathan Sexton with his vision, skill and variation and Patrick Lambie with is vision, skill and variation. Sexton has the advantage of home support and greater experience but young Lambie seems a player with BMT. You will, of course, be keen to see Strauss against Strauss, cousin against cousin, Grey College against Grey College, Free Stater against Free State. Can you really see the Irish front row standing up to the Springbok front row?
2010: South Africa won 23-21, Dublin
2009: Ireland won 15-10, Dublin
2006: Ireland won 32-15, Dublin
2004: Ireland won 17-12, Dublin
2004: South Africa won 26-17, Newlands
2004: South Africa won 31-17, Bloemfontein
Prediction: It takes courage to bet against Ireland in Dublin but, despite their chest-thumping, it's had to see them standing up to the Springboks forwards who have had the measure of the sides they have played this year – good packs of forwards. We predict that the Springboks will win by five or so.
Ireland: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip (captain), 7 Chris Henry, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 David Kilcoyne, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Donncha O'Callaghan, 20 Iain Henderson, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ronan O'Gara, 23 Fergus McFadden
South Africa: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 François Hougaard, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1CJ van der Linde.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Morné Steyn, 22 Juan de Jongh, 23 Lwazi Mvovo.
Date: Saturday, 10 November 2012
Kick-off: 17.30 (17.30 GMT)
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Expected weather: Partly cloudy with a high of 9°C, dropping to 2°C.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), Luke Pierce (England)
TMO: Giulio De Santis (Italy)
By Paul Dobson