Is Kieran Marmion the smarter option for Ireland's Six Nations opener?
Josh Strauss caused Conor Murray plenty of problems during their Champions Cup clash in Scotstoun11:10 Monday 30 January 2017, 11:10 30 Jan 2017
Ireland head to Scotland on Saturday looking to kick-start their Six Nations campaign and hoping to build on a positive end to 2016.
Munster's recent clash with Glasgow at Scotstoun is possibly the best way to gauge what might happen when the Six Nations kicks off this weekend.
The Scottish side identified Conor Murray as the key man in the Munster team and pressured him from the start.
Josh Strauss led the charge as he constantly harried and harassed Murray at each breakdown and whenever he box-kicked.
The no. 8 appeared to target Murray's standing leg whenever he cleared his lines - an accusation Glasgow vehemently denied afterwards.
Murray handled the extra attention well but it's no coincidence that Munster took a stranglehold of the match when Strauss went off in the 68th minute.
Within two minutes Munster broke through the Glasgow defence and they were forced to giveaway a penalty and lost Stuart Hogg to a yellow card. Francis Saili scored in the corner soon after to seal a narrow win for the Irish side.
Glasgow Warriors' Josh Strauss is tackled by Peter O'Mahony of Munster. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Of course, Stauss didn't carry the home side all by himself but it's the first time when Conor Murray has experienced such constant attention in a match.
Playing Scotland at Murrayfield is always a daunting prospect and a fast start is necessary if Joe Schmidt's men are to enjoy a comfortable win.
Murray is the best scrum-half in Europe at the moment, and possibly in the world, but there is an argument for starting Kieran Marmion this weekend.
Marmion's pace to each ruck and the crispness of his delivery could be the key to getting up and running from the start against the Scots.
Marmion was brilliant against Toulouse earlier this month and was at times too fast for even his own back-row to keep up with him. Moving the big Scottish pack around the park from the start might be the best way to get Ireland's Six Nations campaign off with a win.
Murray could come on after the break and see the game out as he does best.
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