England are favourites to beat Ireland in the Six Nations this afternoon at 88/100 (1.88) but it is 21/20 shots Ireland (2.05) who have been tipped to secure the bragging rights by ex-internationals Kyran Bracken and Bob Casey.
Bracken, a World Cup winner with England in 2003, and Casey, capped seven times by Ireland, went head-to-head in a preview of the match.
However, rather than being divided they showed a united front and said the fact the match is taking place at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin will prove decisive.
As both ex-players point out England haven’t won in Ireland since the Grand Slam and World Cup-winning year of 2003.
“We’re not good away from home, England don’t like going to Ireland so I’m predicting – unfortunately – an Ireland victory,” Bracken explained.
If Ireland have an Achilles’ heel it could be discipline, Casey says, particularly given the presence of deadly goal-kicker Owen Farrell in England’s starting XV.
“Ireland’s big problem is discipline – they had two guys sin-binned in the second half against Wales,” the 34-year-old commented.
The form shown by Farrell and his opposite number for Ireland, Jonathan Sexton, in the opening Six Nations weekend suggested both will be in the running to start at fly half when the Lions tour Australia in the summer.
The duo earned rave reviews for the way they controlled the game, fired their respective sides’ backlines and, crucially, converted goalscoring opportunities.
However, both Casey and Bracken believe the key man in the match will prove to be Ireland’s Brian O’Driscoll.
“We’ve got to stop your best player Brian O’Driscoll – the best centre probably in the world that there’s ever been on top of his form,” Bracken told Casey, with the latter adding that BOD also has the ability to bring out the best of the young players around him.
But for all of the factors working in Ireland’s favour bwin’s bookmakers have England as favourites to win. How do you see the match playing out? Let us know on Twitter @bwin.