Scotland centre Peter Horne has warned Ireland that his team will be out to crush their Six Nations Championship “title dreams” at Murrayfield in Edinburgh this coming Saturday.
The Irish began the tournament as clear favourites to defend their crown, but suffered a humbling defeat at home to England in Dublin last weekend.
The Scottish, meanwhile, kicked off their tournament with an impressive five-try bonus-point win over Italy.
And with Scotland facing away games at Stade de France and Twickenham – where they have never won in the Six Nations era – Horne knows his team must hand Ireland a second straight defeat if they are to have any hopes of winning the title.
“Ireland will be feeling a bit of the pressure,” said Horne. “We put ourselves under pressure too, but I guess it will be in the back of their minds that if we beat them their title dreams are gone.
“At the same time we will feel pretty similar, so we’ll look to fly into them and have a good game. I heard Rory Best saying the game against us will be a real measure of their character.
“They will be looking for a massive reaction, which makes them dangerous. They will be looking to prove last weekend’s defeat was just a bump in the road.
“But there will be some [doubt] in the back of their minds if we can start well. We’ll be looking to make it a difficult day and put them under some early pressure.”
However, Horne knows Ireland will come out swinging in Edinburgh and look to take out their frustrations at last weekend’s defeat.
“We need to be wary. Ireland are a world-class side. They’re ranked second in the world for a reason,” the centre explained.
“Up until the weekend they were probably the world’s form team, but England were outstanding.
“Gregor [Townsend, Scotland’s coach] said to us today it is going to be one of the biggest challenges any of us has ever faced and that’s the way we’re treating it.
“They’re a fantastic side who have got threats all over the pitch – but on the flip side, we’re ready for it. This is why we play rugby.”