IRELAND coach Declan Kidney kept faith with the side that edged home against Scotland 10 days ago when he named his team to face Wales in Cardiff this Saturday evening.
The Irish completed the first leg of a potential Triple Crown and made it two wins from three in this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship when tries from Jamie Heaslip, Eoin Reddan and Ronan O'Gara helped see off the game Scots 21-18 at Murrayfield.
And Kidney has named an unchanged side and bench to face the Welsh, who like the Irish, have two away wins, over Scotland and Italy, and one home defeat, to England, under their belt so far.
“Everything points to there not being a whole between us at the moment,” Kidney said after announcing his team at the squad's hotel in the Dublin suburbs on Tuesday.
“Obviously going to Cardiff, depending on how old you are, going to the Cardiff Arms Park was always daunting. For my age it was JPR Williams, Barry John, and we always knew what a huge task it was for Ireland.
“There's nothing in it now. Like two years ago, there was nothing, literally one kick of a ball between the two sides.
“These lads play against one another at least three times a year, and the fact they know one another so well means space is at a premium and it will be one of those games where whoever wins will have taken the chances that arise.”
Kidney's selection means no place for Munster's Tomas O'Leary, who had started at scrum-half against Italy and France, but missed the Scotland game due to a back spasm and was deemed short of match fitness.
Fellow Munsterman Peter Stringer will once again provide scrum-half cover for Eoin Reddan, who aside from scoring a try against the Scots, gave a good account at Murrayfield in providing quick ball to the Irish backs.
Wales coach Warren Gatland also named his team today and has retained the same pack which saw off Italy in Rome two weekends ago but has rejigged the back line with two new faces and two positional switches.
Cardiff wing Leigh Halfpenny and Scarlets centre Jonathan Davies come in for Saturday's game with fly-half Stephen Jones and wing Morgan Stoddart dropping to the bench.
That means Ospreys' James Hook moves from the centres to fly-half, a role he played for the first time for Wales in the win over Scotland.
Davies returns from hamstring trouble to reform his midfield partnership with club-mate Jamie Roberts, who switches to outside centre, while Halfpenny replaces Scarlets wing Stoddart.
“This is a crucial game for us as a win will keep us in the Championship mix and take us into that final round with everything still to play for,” Gatland said.
“But it is also a big game for Ireland who are in a similar position to us going into this match.”
Welsh captain Matthew Rees has shaken off a slight hamstring problem to start at hooker despite taking only a limited part in training while Hook (calf) and former skipper Ryan Jones (calf) have also been hampered in their preparations.
IRELAND: L Fitzgerald (Leinster); T Bowe (Ospreys), B O'Driscoll (Leinster) - captain, G D'Arcy (Leinster), K Earls (Munster); R O'Gara (Munster), E Reddan (Leinster); C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross (Leinster); D O'Callaghan (Munster), P O'Connell (Munster); S O'Brien (Leinster), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster).
Replacements: S Cronin (Connacht), T Court (Ulster), L Cullen (Leinster), D Leamy (Munster), P Stringer (Munster), J Sexton (Leinster), P Wallace (Ulster).
WALES: Lee Byrne (Ospreys), Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues), Jamie Roberts (Cardiff Blues), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), Shane Williams (Ospreys); James Hook (Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Ospreys); Paul James (Ospreys), Matthew Rees (Scarlets) - captain, Craig Mitchell (Ospreys), Bradley Davies (Cardiff Blues), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Newport Gwent Dragons), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues), Ryan Jones (Ospreys).
Replacements: Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), John Yapp (Cardiff Blues), (Two from: Rob McCusker (Scarlets), Andy Powell (London Wasps) and Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys)), Dwayne Peel (Sale Sharks), Stephen Jones (Scarlets), Morgan Stoddart (Scarlets).