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Ireland v Scotland - Talking Points

Published 14/08/2015

Ireland host Scotland in their second World Cup warm-up clash in Dublin on Saturday looking to build on their 35-21 victory over Wales.

Here, Press Association Sport examines five key talking points ahead of the Aviva Stadium battle.

CAN GORDON D'ARCY DELAY RETIREMENT AND HEAD TO A FIFTH WORLD CUP?

Long-serving centre D'Arcy may well be about to drop the curtain on 17 years with Leinster, but he is determined to forge on to next month's World Cup.

While long-term midfield partner Brian O'Driscoll called it quits a year earlier, D'Arcy has been at pains to press on through regardless.

Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne are set fair as Ireland's first-choice centre partnership these days, but head coach Joe Schmidt is likely to select D'Arcy in his final 31 as much for his reliability as anything else.

Without the 35-year-old as a back-up for Henshaw, Ireland could come unstuck for physical options at inside centre.

Though D'Arcy is not the force of yesteryear, a solid showing against Scotland ought to be enough to book his place in the final squad.

DEBUTANT HUGH BLAKE IS ITCHING TO PROVE HIS COMMITMENT TO THE CAUSE

New Zealand-born flanker Blake sparked huge controversy when coach Vern Cotter named him in the Scotland squad before he had even featured for Edinburgh.

Blake had barely even arrived in Scotland when he was ushered straight into the Scotland set-up, but did not play in the Six Nations.

Now the 22-year-old has his Test chance in Ireland, and is desperate to impress - both to further his World Cup aspirations and prove his commitment to all things Scotland.

Fuss aside, Blake has been named in a strong-looking Scottish back-row, leaving Ireland wary of what he can muster in tandem with Blair Cowan, another Kiwi-born Scot.

IS SIMON ZEBO ENOUGH OF A FULL-BACK FOR JOE SCHMIDT'S LIKING?

Versatility is the World Cup selection buzzword for Ireland, with boss Schmidt keen to keep his options as broad as possible, particularly in the back-three.

Felix Jones impressed against Wales, and Schmidt has been a long-time admirer of the Munster full-back, who could yet deputise for Rob Kearney in Ireland's final World Cup reckoning.

Wily wing Zebo has commandeered a starting berth for some 18 months but the return to fitness of the likes of Andrew Trimble could threaten his place.

CAN RICHIE VERNON COMPLETE HIS REMARKABLE TRANSFORMATION?

Vernon will make his first Test appearance for two years on Saturday - and his Test debut as a centre.

The ex-flanker won 20 caps in the back-row but cut a swathe through the tail-end of last season in midfield with Glasgow Warriors.

Now head coach Vern Cotter has handed him his Test head in the centres, Vernon has the perfect stage to prove his World Cup worth to Scotland's backline, not back-row.

CAN DAN TUOHY FORCE HIS HAND AT LOCK?

Ulster second row Tuohy will be itching for a big performance off the back of rival Donnacha Ryan's strong showing in Wales.

Munster lock Ryan produced a sterling effort in his first Test for 29 months, to storm into serious contention for Ireland's final World Cup 31.

Ryan's ability to operate at blindside flanker if required plays to Schmidt's versatility commodity as well, so Tuohy will be mindful of the need to impress.

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