Italy v Ireland
Italy and Ireland kick off at 2.30pm on Saturday 7 FebruaryGetty

Italy and Ireland clash in the second game of the 2015 Six Nations at the Stadio Flaminio.

Where to watch

Kick-off is at 2:30pm (GMT) with live coverage available on BBC One and BBC One HD, with live commentary also available on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra on Saturday 7 February.

Preview

No other team will begin this year's edition of the Six Nations carrying more momentum than Ireland. The 2014 champions finished last year with a remarkable record of nine Test victories from a possible 10 which included wins over Australia and South Africa in November with much now expected at the World Cup later this year.

Now without the presence of their iconic captain Brian O'Driscoll who brought the curtain down on a stunning international career at last year's competition, Joe Schmidt can call upon a strong squad which has seen the injuries that were rampant in late 2014 begin to ease.

While Jonny Sexton won't be available on Saturday due to a concussion, Munster fly-half Ian Keatley will start alongside Conor Murray in a formidable half-back partnership, while British and Irish Lions flanker Sean O'Brien is thrown straight back in at the deep end following his return from injury. The Leinster man, having undergone two shoulder surgeries in the last 12 months, played 50 minutes for the Ireland Wolfhounds against England Saxons last Friday, but seemingly did enough to impress Schmidt.

Although Paddy Jackson will miss the competition, the returns of Sexton and Cian Healy for crucial clashes with France and England in Dublin bode well for Ireland's chances of retaining the title.

Italy meanwhile begin their campaign once again favourites to prop up the table. The recipients of last year's wooden spoon will be relying on the form of their inspirational number eight Sergio Parisse to inspire the young side but the passion and pride instilled in the Azzurri is likely to be undermined by a sheer lack of depth in their ranks.

Teams

Ireland: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jordi Murphy, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Paul O'Connell (c), 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Jack McGrath.

Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 James Cronin, 18 Martin Moore, 19 Iain Henderson, 20 Tommy O'Donnell, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Felix Jones.

Italy: A Masi; L Sarto, M Campagnaro, L Morisi, L McLean, K Haimona, E Gori, M Aguero, L Ghiraldini, M Castrogiovanni, J Furno, G Biagi, A Zanni, F Minto, S Parisse.

Replacements: A Manici, A De Marchi, D Chistolini, M Fuser, M Barbini, G Palazzani, T Allan, G Venditti.

What the coaches say

Joe Schmidt: [On selecting Keatley ahead of Munster teammate Ian Madigan] "Part of it is his combination with Conor Murray, their understanding is very good.

"He's had that rhythm of playing at no.10 regularly whereas Ian Madigan hasn't.

"It was a reasonably tight decision and probably a vote of confidence in Ian Keatley. We believe that he can cope."

Jacques Brunel: "It's a year in which we have three home games, so we owe it to ourselves to win at home. I'm convinced we're not that far off the other big nations.

"But for us to win, we need 100% precision and 100% efficiency. We can't afford to be at 70 or 80%."