Ireland lock Iain Henderson hopes Scotland’s enforced month-long break from Guinness Six Nations action has left them feeling rusty rather than refreshed.
The Scots made a flying start to the Championship by upsetting England but, after an agonising loss to Wales, have not played for four weeks due to the postponement of their round-three clash with France.
Ireland head to Murrayfield on Sunday having bounced back from successive defeats to Wales and France with a resounding bonus-point win in Italy.
Ulster captain Henderson wants to continue the revival in Edinburgh and is ready to take advantage of any lack of cohesion among Gregor Townsend’s men.
“It’s difficult to weigh up those two arguments because I’ve been in the scenario before where we haven’t played for a number of weeks and you feel very fresh going into it,” he said.
“But then sometimes in the back of your mind it crawls in, ‘is my conditioning up to standard here?’
“I feel like we’re in a good position, personally. In the shoes I am sitting in at the minute, I would have preferred to play two weeks ago – I am glad that we did.
“A good few of their guys did get back and play for their individual teams, so conditioning might not be at the forefront of their minds.
“But a bit of the team closeness or how connected they feel will hopefully be playing on their minds.”
Henderson captained his country for the first time during the loss to Les Bleus on February 14 before skipper Johnny Sexton and vice-captain James Ryan returned from head injuries for the victorious visit to Rome.
While there has been persistent talk of a perceived lack of vocal leadership among the Irish squad, the 29-year-old believes head coach Andy Farrell is doing an “excellent job” of addressing the issue.
“What Faz (Farrell) has done, he’s asked guys to be more vocal, he wants people to talk more, he’s making an environment where it’s more possible for guys to find their voice,” said Henderson.
“And in doing that naturally a lot of people have come to the forefront in their leadership skills.
“He’s really nurtured that environment for that to happen and every campaign and weeks in the campaign you see it progressing more. And it’s good to see.
“You see guys sharing knowledge for the good of the team so that everyone else is getting better.
“Maybe before guys might not have pitched up and given their insights but we’re in such an intense environment and everyone in this environment is so skilled at what they do that we need to be feeding off each other.
“It’s great to see the management creating this environment where we can do that and I think Andy Farrell has done an excellent job of that.”