DING DING DING! It’s time for round two.
Yes, after a week of high-stakes poker played out in press releases and a Westbury Hotel board room, we can ice this ugly money-fueled talk and get back to enjoying real-life, mud, tape and blood rugby.
Crouch. Bind… crooked feed.
Here’s why we can’t wait for seven o’clock to come.
Matt Healy v Alex Cuthbert
The westerners’ winger provided the highlight of the opening day win against Zebre with a classic outside-gas try in the corner.
Tonight, his direct opponent in Cardiff will be the much more Adonis-like figure of the Wales and Lions winger.
That’s him to Adam Jones’ left in the picture.. David Davies/PA Wire/Press Association Images
JJ Hanrahan is starting against Zebre
It’s almost 11 months since he won his first senior man-of-the-match award.
YouTube credit: capavrugby
When Pat Lam couldn’t whittle his leaders below three, we knew one man would have to stand above the rest.
Michael Swift, John Muldoon and Gavin Duffy are all in Connacht’s starting line-up tonight, but Swift is the biggest of the big dogs. But sure we knew that anyway*.
*Pfft second captain, first captain whatever. We do, of course expect Duffy to take captaincy duties in a match where he’s been fast-tracked back from a broken jaw.
Ian Nagle v Marco Bortolami
Munster’s lauded next-gen second row is making steady progress towards fulfilling the expectations he created for himself in the win over Australia.
Tonight, away from home, he’ll square up to one of the league’s grizzled old characters. Bortolami and Zebre want a win – bad – so Nagle will have to dig deep too keep Munster’s feelgood summer rolling on.
Leinster haven’t named their team at the time of publishing, but we fully expect Ian Madigan to take time out from throwing balls at… well, balls to take over the number 10 shirt from Jonathan Sexton.
Jimmy Gopperth may be proving doubters wrong – instigating flowing attacks on top of expertly managing his new club through the 80 minutes – but there is no doubt who the Grandstand in Ballsbridge want to see calling the shots.
You might see more of Felix Jones than you expected… or wanted
Leinster v Ospreys
There’s a very valid case for calling Glasgow’s trip to Ulster the game of the weekend, but tomorrow night will bring a repeat of the 2010 and 2012 league finals. There’s something about the RDS that really does bring out the best in the Ospreys.
These are never games to be missed and, although Leinster fans will nod to a bonus point win at the tail end of last season, that was just their second victory in eight against Neath-Swansea’s finest (and was delivered by an Andrew Conway hat-trick).
Nick Williams is back and we hear he’s itching to get an audacious offload away
It’s your first chance to see Stuart Hogg since this happened
If you struggle to recognise him with his clothes on, he’ll be the one with ’15′ on his back in Ravenhill.
19.05: Cardiff v Connacht
19.05: Ulster v Glasgow
19.30: Zebre v Munster
19.45: Edinburgh v Dragons.
18.15: Leinster v Ospreys
18.30: Llanelli v Treviso