Farm friends Lydiate and O'Brien braced for battle
They became firm friends on a Lions tour - and farm friends too - but back-row behemoths Dan Lydiate and Sean O'Brien will be keen rivals in the Millennium Stadium tomorrow.
Their rivalry will be a keen facet on the field with the Welshman one of the finest exponents of the low-down chop tackle, which did for Ireland at the 2011 World Cup, while Tullow Tank O'Brien is a beast in the 'choke tackle', where the Irish forwards will seek to keep their opponents off the floor and win a scrum.
Their motives are the same on the field even if their methods differ and while they share a similar background, there too their interests are subtly different.
Lydiate is a sheep farmer in his spare time, while O'Brien's speciality is beef; on the last Lions tour, while other players devoured tactics in their spare time, this pair contemplated tractors.
Even in this aspect, there remains an integral rivalry of sorts.
"Sean's sponsored by Massey-Ferguson and it's only recently that I've been sponsored by JCB," explains Lydiate, a former Racing Metro team-mate of Jonathan Sexton.
"Whenever we had some down-time on the Lions tour the boys were trying to get to know each other," adds Lydiate. "So we'd always chat about farming with Sean, Tom Youngs and Rory Best.
"We can chat about our new tractors after the game. We'll be giving blood, sweat and tears come the match but we'll shake hands afterwards and hopefully have a good catch-up."
Lydiate knows that may be the only occasion when he might be able to flag him down.
"He's not easy to stop," remarks the Dragons man. "I've spent time with him on tour and I've played against him a few times and you don't want him to have big run-ups at you. It's about slowing him down before he gets going.
"They have a very strong back-row and Jamie coming back into the team only strengthens that and we're looking forward to the challenge.
"Jamie Heaslip is a leader on the field, a great ball carrier and a nuisance at the breakdown. And the other two back-rowers, Sean and Peter O'Mahony, make for a really strong unit.
"We're going to have to be on top-form to try and get the better of them."
Wales will also have to deal with the emotion surrounding captain Paul O'Connell's 100th cap.
"It's a massive achievement," adds Lydiate. "I hold him in the highest regard. He's a gentleman off the field and an awesome player on it.
"You'd rather have him on your side because he wears his heart on his sleeve."