Ireland's Six Nations campaign gets underway this weekend, but it is difficult to know how things are going to go.
Despite going into the final weekend of last year's competition with a chance of winning the tournament, it's fair to say that 2020 was a huge disappointment overall. The team's lack of potency in attack was especially concerning, with two heavy defeats to England piling the pressure on Andy Farrell.
On Sunday they will face a Wales team going through plenty of struggles of their own, making the Irish slight favourites despite the game being in Cardiff.
Speaking to Balls on The Deep Dive in partnership with Chicago Town, Eddie O'Sullivan has identified where this weekend's game will be won or lost.
O'Sullivan certainly knows what it takes to win on the big occasions, having led Ireland to three Triple Crowns during his time in charge. Looking ahead to Sunday's game, he feels there are four areas of the match that will ultimately decide the outcome.
@TheRealEddieOS identifies Ireland's attack as one his keys to victory over Wales in the opening game of the Six Nations. Check out his full breakdown of what we need to do to win against Wales here.
In partnership with @ChicagoTownIre #SIXNATIONSRUGBY #WALvIRL pic.twitter.com/L4EaLVfMly
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) February 4, 2021
Ireland stuggled at times in the line-out over the last 12 months or so, with the retirement of Rory Best affecting the set-piece.
Despite this O'Sullivan believes that Ireland should dominate in this area against the Welsh, but a failure to do so could have a big impact.
This has been the main area of concern under Andy Farrell. Ireland looked to lack any sort of real inventiveness in attack for large periods last year, playing far too often through the forwards and attempting to run over the opposition.
That will have to change for this tournament, something that ultimately falls to attack coach Mike Catt. The former England international previously filled a similar role with Italy, but has not convinced since coming into the Ireland setup.
O'Sullivan feels there will be some pressure on him to get things right on this occasion:
Last year Ireland's attack didn't really function that well. There was a lack of fluidity and a lack of accuracy, so there is pressure on Mike Catt here to get this attack moving.
We will get opportunities against Wales and we should be able to take advantage of it, but what has happened before is we have failed to convert pressure into points. This has to change next weekend.
This is intrinsically linked to the point above.
Ireland's first preference is to go through the phases and grind down the opposition, but there seems to be few other options if this does not work.
That could come back to bit them on Sunday, especially if Wales change the defensive system which saw their form plummet since the departure of Warren Gatland.
This is the big one. Wales probably have the best home advantage of any team in the Six Nations, with the Cardiff crowd a daunting prospect for visiting sides. We have seen countless examples of that helping push the Welsh players on over the course of the 80 minutes.
Of course, there will be no supporters present for this game. That is something O'Sullivan believes will be a huge boost to Ireland.
It has always been difficult to win at the Millennium Stadium, the crowd and the atmosphere always raises the Welsh team.
But this year, there's no crowd, no atmosphere, so no excuse. We should get it done there.