Ireland will face a pumped-up USA Eagles side when the two sides meet in their first match of the World Cup which will be played in New Plymouth on the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
The Irish will have plenty of motivation of their own as they seek to improve on a disastrous World Cup campaign in France four years ago, and a solid start against the Americans will be crucial for captain Brian O'Driscoll's team.
On paper Ireland should cruise to a resounding victory, but they have had a very poor run of late - losing all four of their warm-up matches - and the Eagles will be determined to exploit any self-doubt within their ranks.
Ireland know that facing the Eagles on this momentous day will not be easy and they will settle for victory by the narrowest of margins, if need be.
"If we win 3-0, we'll take a 3-0 win," said coach Declan Kidney, tasked with keeping his side focused on the game in New Plymouth amid the distraction of memorials on the poignant date.
The Americans will attend a church service before kick-off and both teams will wear black armbands and observe a minute's silence before play gets underway in their Pool C clash.
Despite losing four consecutive games in the lead up to the Cup, Ireland on their day have the ability to win their pool but it would mean upsetting Australia and also beating Italy.
To have a chance of doing that they will have to gel immediately and the September 11 backdrop adds an unknown element to the encounter when the Six Nations side runs out against the 18th-ranked Eagles.
Kidney said the win was what mattered most and he would not be chasing bonus point tries which may be vital in determining the top two pool teams.
"The only points I'm interested in are the four on offer at the start of the game. We're not thinking about bonus points, and we won't be running over anybody," he said.
"Bonus points might come into play, but if you win every match bonus points aren't an issue," he explained.
Ireland have gone for an inexperienced halfback combination of Conor Murray, who made his debut against France last month, linking for the first time with Jonathan Sexton.
Their vastly experienced O'Driscoll, starting his 114th Test and the first Ireland player to take part in four World Cups, has faith in the pair to perform.
"With every minute they'll have together on the pitch, they'll improve. I wouldn't envisage any difficulties," he said.
In the front row, Tom Court replaces prop Cian Healy who continues to be troubled by an eye socket injury, and flank Shane Jenkins gets his first start after coming in as a late replacement for the injured David Wallace.
Eagles prop Mike MacDonald is expecting mixed emotions as he becomes the most capped US player with his record-breaking 63rd international falling on the September 11 anniversary.
"I’m ecstatic it's happening when it is," he said "It's a great occasion, being the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and the first game of the World Cup. It really means a lot for me that it has come at this time.
"You can say a lot of things now, but in the heat of the moment the emotion is going to hit."
The United States will start the first pair of brothers in the 2011 World Cup with Roland Suniula preferred as playmaker over the more experienced Nese Malifa at flyhalf to partner his sibling Andrew Suniula at inside centre.
Wing James Paterson will take over Malifa's kicking duties, and at the back Blaine Scully starts as fullback with Chris Wyles being kept back for the Eagles target match aginst Russia on 15 September.
"There are some tight calls. But this is the team we want to put on the field bar Wyles," said coach Eddie O'Sullivan.
"Ideally, for us to win the Russia game is the big one for us. They're ranked pretty close to us, so we have to be on our game."
Players to watch:
For Ireland: Veteran skipper O'Driscoll is always a threat in the midfield, and his partnership with inside centre Gordon D'Arcy will be key especially considering the relative inexperience of the halfback combination inside them. In the pack big lock Paul O'Connell will look to lead the way and get his team some front foot ball while Jamie Heaslip is always a threat from the back of the scrum.
For USA: Keep an eye on captain Todd Clever who is an all-action loose forward and loves to get stuck in, while out on the wing the blistering pace of Takudzwa Ngwenya is a major weapon for the Americans and he will surely show just how dangerous he can be if his team manage to get him the ball in a bit of space.
Head to Head: The duel in the second row between O'Connell and Saracens lock Hayden Smith should be intriguing, while Eagles outside centre Paul Emerick should have his hands full squaring up to O'Driscoll. If the wily veteran can produce some magic it will bolster his team's confidence levels and they should be able to showcase their skills.
1994: Ireland won 26-15, Dublin
1996: Ireland won 25-18, Atlanta
1999: Ireland won 53-8, Dublin
2000: Ireland won 83-3, Manchester
2004: Ireland won 55-6, Dublin
2009: Ireland won 27-10, California
Prediction: The Eagles will bolt out of the blocks and produce plenty of passion early on, but Ireland have too much class and experience and they should run away with it in the second half. Ireland to win this one by more than 20 points.
Ireland: 15 Geordan Murphy, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Brian O'Driscoll 9captain), 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Jerry Flannery, 17 Tony Buckley, 18 Donnacha Ryan, 19 Denis Leamy, 20 Eoin Reddan, 21 Sean O'Brien, 22 Andrew Trimble.
United States: 15 Blaine Scully, 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya, 13 Paul Emerick, 12 Andrew Suniula, 11 James Paterson, 10 Roland Suniula, 9 Mike Petri, 8 Nic Johnson, 7 Todd Clever (captain), 6 Louis Stanfill, 5 Hayden Smith, 4 John van der Giessen, 3 Shawn Pittman, 2 Phil Thiel, 1 Mike MacDonald.
Replacements: 16 Chris Biller, 17 Matekitonga Moeakiola, 18 Scott LaValla, 19 Pat Danahy, 20 Tim Usasz, 21 Nese Malifa, 22 Colin Hawley.
Date: Sunday, 11 September 2011
Venue: Stadium Taranaki, New Plymouth
Kick-off: 18.00 (06.00 GMT)
Expected weather: It will be cold and wet, with rain expected and a top temperature of 16° which will drop to 9°.
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Carlo Damasco (Italy)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)
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