YOKOHAMA, 20 Sep - Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt is banking on the "contagious enthusiasm" of backs Jordan Larmour, Andrew Conway and Jacob Stockdale, who will make their World Cup debuts against Scotland in Yokohama on Sunday.
There was much speculation this week over the fitness of established full-back Rob Kearney and first-choice winger Keith Earls. Schmidt said he could have selected both, but ultimately decided to go with two players who have been in full training all week.
Larmour, 22, will start at full-back, where he has made four of his six Ireland starts. With Stockdale, 23, an automatic selection on one wing, 28-year-old Conway starts on the other.
Conway made his test debut as a replacement for Earls against England in March 2017 and gets the nod ahead of his fellow Munster man, who Schmidt said was sharpest in training on Wednesday.
"Their enthusiasm is something that's contagious, their ability to get themselves into the game," Schmidt said of the back three.
"Andrew has proven that he's got real aerial ability and that will be really useful for us. I still have the vision in my mind clearly of Jordan Larmour beating Israel Folau to a ball in the in the third test in Sydney on our Australian tour so he is very good there as well.
"And Jacob (Stockdale), of course, is a big man in the backfield. So, they're all feeding off each other. They're all young men who are very, very keen to impress."
Earls and Kearney will come back into the reckoning for the second pool game, against Japan on Saturday 28 September.
"Rob Kearney trained well as well, so it was really just that we were getting very tight for time," the coach said. "The best continuity, we felt, was to have the guys who have trained through the time that we’ve been here."
Jack Carty will provide fly-half cover on the bench. Joey Carbery, who sustained an ankle injury last month, is likely to return for the Japan game.
New Zealander Schmidt, who will leave his post at the end of the tournament, said there had been "some tight decisions" in the pack.
Notably, CJ Stander has held off the challenge of Jack Conan at number eight and loosehead prop Cian Healy has been backed ahead of hard-pressing Dave Kilcoyne.
"We need the right people coming off the bench doing the right job,” the coach added. "When you've got a squad of 31, you've got to be confident of all 31 of them."
With James Ryan partnering Iain Henderson in the second row, cover from the bench will be provided by the versatile Tadhg Beirne, preferred ahead of Jean Kleyn not least because he's a compelling option in the back row.
With the weather in Japan varying wildly, Schmidt has readied his team for all conditions and expects the Scots to be equally well prepared.
The 54-year-old is noted for coming up with power plays capable of cutting through the best defences. Has he got something up his sleeve for the Scots?
"I've got short sleeves - there's nothing too much up my sleeves," he quipped, adding: "There are certainly things that you do hold back a bit. I've no doubt we'll see something from Scotland that we haven't seen before because we've been planning this for a long time."