Ireland’s James Lowe is relishing a battle on the wing against the “exceptional” Darcy Graham and “behemoth” Duhan van der Merwe and insists the world No. 1 side have learned something from every victory in their record winning streak.  

Saturday’s clash at the Stade de France will decide who reaches the quarter-finals; the Scots face a daunting task, requiring a comfortable victory over a side they have lost to in each of their last eight meetings.

Andy Farrell’s side are on a 16-match winning run in which they have taken down the biggest sides in world rugby, including impressively dispatching reigning world champions South Africa two weeks ago in Paris.

But Lowe was eager to emphasise that Irish momentum won’t collapse into complacency as he heaped praise on his opposite numbers.

“Darcy Graham is an exceptional player. Fortunately, I haven’t had to man mark him yet, I’ve never played opposite him in an international as far as I know,” said Lowe.

“[He has] very good feet, he is similar to the two South African boys we played last week [Cheslin Kolbe and Kurt-Lee Arendse].

“His ability to create something out of nothing is probably only challenged by the two boys last week. He’s definitely a handful but you want to challenge yourself against the best.

“Then you look at the behemoth on the other end [Van der Merwe]. He’s a few inches taller than me and definitely has more muscle than me as well.

“He’s a serious threat ball in hand, but we’re going to try our best to put them under as much pressure as we can and hopefully Finn Russell doesn’t find them too often in too much space.”

Scottish fans must look all the way back to 2017 for their last taste of victory over Ireland, a 27-22 Six Nations triumph at Murrayfield that came three-and-a-half years before Lowe first pulled on a green jersey.

“It does give us confidence, what we’ve done over the last three to four years,” Lowe said.  

“We know what works. But even in wins there are things to learn, so I wouldn’t go anywhere near the word ‘invincible’. Complacency can’t creep into this group.

“There is more than just the 23-man squad that could easily play and do a job for this side seamlessly fitting into position.

“Complacency won’t be coming into this side. We understand the serious threats and we’ve respected every opponent we’ve played so far in this competition. We are just as diligent with Scotland as we were with South Africa, Romania and Tonga.”

Lowe backed up his words by giving an analysis of a Scottish side who themselves went into a World Cup ranked No. 5 in the world.

“Scotland are an amazing team who have definitely pushed us,” Lowe said.

“I know we’ve had the better end of the stick in the last few encounters, but they are a team that play with a lot of passion, width, and physicality.

“You respect them because you really don’t want to lose and you want to go out there and put in a performance you’re proud of. We’re looking forward to the challenge.

“They have one of the best 10s in the world [Russell] and they’ve picked a 9 [Ali Price] who likes running from the base.

“They will definitely go in with a mindset of scoring lots of tries and putting us under pressure. With a 6:2 split on the bench, they have a lot of forwards and impact players who will change the match, so we need to match them there.”

Ireland’s 13-8 win over the Springboks a fortnight ago was widely lauded as the match of the tournament and even as one of the greatest pool-stage matches ever seen at a World Cup.

Despite the low scoreline, a hard-hitting, ferocious contest made for enthralling viewing and Ireland’s victory was a sign of their credentials as potential winners for the first time, having never made it further than the quarter-finals before.

But the epic win over the reigning champions was not enough to guarantee Ireland a place in the knockout stages – or completely satisfy the Irish squad.  

“I think all we’re doing is trying to prove to ourselves that we can back up performance on performance,” Lowe said.

“A lot was said about how good a Test match it was, but both teams will go away from that thinking they can definitely be better.

“We had the week off, trained well, had a few days off.  We’ve come into this week bouncing, looking at ways we can get better.

“You can’t brush over things, especially when you do win, because otherwise the mistakes and the pressure we put on ourselves will come back to bite us in the butt one way or another.

“You take as many learnings from a win as you do from a defeat. Hopefully we will be better for it tomorrow night.”

Ireland’s scrum coach John Fogerty explained that another useful lesson was learned by watching South Africa’s 18-3 win over Scotland on the opening weekend of the tournament, where the Springboks scored two quick tries in the second half to wrestle the result in their favour.

“Blair Kinghorn and Russell’s decision making, seeing space, being able to use these wingers, that’s a real concern, a real threat,” said Fogerty.

“They are world class at seeing the game unfold and looking for opportunities.

“We talk about making sure we are making good decisions off the ball to put ourselves in good positions to close off gaps, not giving them opportunities to see too much.

“South Africa in that second half did a good job of containing Scotland. From the very start we need to make sure we’re on our feet, all connected in defence, making good decisions to go wherever we’re needed, so that we limit what they see and put as much pressure on them as possible to take away that time so they can make poor decisions.”