Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt was full of praise for Scotland and the threats they pose all over the park at yesterday’s team announcement – and he saved his most glowing tributes for opposite number Gregor Townsend.

“Do you want the full list?” the famously anxious New Zealander retorted, when asked what was concerning him most ahead of Sunday’s World Cup opener at Yokohama International Stadium in Japan.

“They’re so competitive everywhere,” he continued. “We know the breakdown is going to be hotly contested. There’s going to be some challenges for Wayne Barnes there, for sure. Because both teams are so competitive at the breakdown, that’s going to be a real starting place for both teams to put pressure on, especially when you’ve got the likes of Hamish Watson, Ryan Wilson and John Barclay in their back-row.

“Obviously, their back-three – which is high speed and very, very talented – I think there is great strength there. And getting Duncan Taylor back is a bit of a boon for them because he’s got great experience playing for Saracens in top European matches. Sam Johnson has been very good for them since breaking into the team.

“Their front-row is very effective over the ball. Both hookers – Stuart McInally and Fraser Brown – are converted back-rowers and they put lots of pressure on the ball. So, those elements are always a bit of a concern.

"Greig Laidlaw at scrum-half is a very professional kicker; and we know that when it does rain [as is forecast on Sunday] points become that little bit more valuable because they are harder to get, so he could be very useful for him there too.

“We also know that Finn Russell has a huge variety in his kicking game and he’ll be a threat, and then there is the length of Stuart Hogg‘s kicking game.

“And Gregor concerns me because he’s a very astute man,” Schmidt added. “He will set up a couple of things we haven’t seen before, along with Danny Wilson in the coaching strategy they’ve put together.

“So, across the board, there is plenty we will be actively concerned about, that we will be trying to proactively solve once we get out on the pitch, and hopefully we can cause a few headaches to them as well.”

Schmidt has made five changes to the side which beat Wales in their final warm-up match. Three of those swaps are enforced after Robbie Henshaw was ruled out earlier this week with a hamstring twinge and has been replaced by Garry Ringrose, while full-back Rob Kearney [calf] and winger Keith Earls [knee] have lost their race against time to be match fit, and have been replaced by Jordan Lamour and Andrew Conway.

The two other changes come in the pack where Iain Henderson will partner James Ryan in the second-row at the expense of Jean Kleyn, while Jack Conan misses out in the back-row, where CJ Stander switches from blindside to No8 to accommodate the return of Peter O’Mahony.

“It is exciting to have the back three we’ve got,” said Schmidt. “It is a great opportunity and a fantastic challenge for them. Their enthusiasm is contagious and they have the ability to get themselves into the game.”

“Andrew has proven he has got real aerial ability and that will be pretty useful for us, and I still have the vision in my mind of Jordan beating Israel Folau to the ball in the air during the third Test in Sydney on our tour to Australia last year, and Jacob is, of course, a big man in the back field. So, they are all feeding off each other – they are all young men who are very eager to impress.

Ireland (team to play Scotland at International Stadium Yokohama on Sunday at 4.45pm local time – 8.45am): J Larmour; A Conway, G Ringrose, B Aki, J Stockdale; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best©, T Furlong, I Henderson, J Ryan, P O’Mahony, J van der Flier, CJ Stander. Replacement: N Scannell, D Kilcoyne, A Porter, T Beirne, J Conan, L McGrath, J Carty, C Farrell.