While Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll will deliver the pre-match pep-talk this afternoon at the Stadio Flaminio, it was Ulster skipper Rory Best who fired the first pre-battle salvo last night.
third Irish Grand Slam and the second in three years is his and Ireland's target and that means victory over Italy in today’s opening contest in Rome is a must.
“We are taking part in this competition to win it. That is first and foremost in our minds,” said Best.
“That is where we have got ourselves as a squad over the last few years; we want to win it.
“We’re all ambitious. Every competition we are in — as a province or as a country — we want to win it and that is the way we are starting this.”
In keeping with Best’s words, O’Driscoll will remind his players of what happened in 2009 when Ireland last faced Italy in their own backyard.
Having trailed 9-7 with little more than a quarter of the match gone Ireland ended the day with five tries and a 38-9 triumph en route to a clean sweep.
They will aim for a similar outcome this afternoon, ideally without the early scare.
Of today’s line-up, O’Driscoll is one of only six players who started that day for Ireland, the others being Luke Fitzgerald, Tomas O’Leary, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell and David Wallace.
Now their sights are set on a repeat of two years ago — a run of five straight wins starting today.
“At the end of the day if you want to win the thing (the Grand Slam), you have to win all five games,” said Best.