Three to watch
Schmidt has already name-checked the sky-scraping, blond bombshell second-row as a key force for Scotland and, after a year in the wilderness with Sale, the 24-year-old is primed to burst into life during this championship.
Dynamic in loose play and a line-out expert, the 33-times capped player gained a significant amount of confidence on the Lions tour last summer.
Hogg scored two tries last term and he is the one bright spark in a relatively moribund backline, now shorn of the immense presence and pace of flying Dutchman Tim Visser.
He has continued his good form with Glasgow against top-level opposition and he could be a thorn in Ireland's side, particularly if Scott Johnson gives him a roving brief. An out-half option, too, if defensively brittle, and his kicking game can be exploited.
Scotland will seek to disrupt and their awkward and borderline illegal ground work will be a source for Laidlaw to unleash his unerring boot, which he did so successfully last year in Murrayfield when he kicked all of his side's points in the win against Ireland.
He also scored 19 points in Edinburgh's shock win over Munster in the Heineken Cup and, if allowed a free rein, can control a game like Ruan Pienaar with excellent tactical kicking and dangerous sniping from rucks and mauls.