Ben Te'o expects England's Guinness Six Nations title clash with Ireland to reach "boiling point" in an early incarnation of knockout rugby.
The northern hemisphere's most anticipated Test of 2019 is being staged on the opening weekend of the Championship when Joe Schmidt's Grand Slam holders host the team they replaced as Europe's dominant force.
Ireland are odds-on favourites to triumph at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, but Te'o insists England refuse to be cast as willing victims.
"This game is pretty big for them. Playing England is pretty big for everyone, it seems," the Auckland-born Worcester centre said.
"You realise everyone wants to knock us over, but we're not just sitting ducks. I'm sure it will reach boiling point and will be intense, which is what everyone wants to see.
"We've had some good battles with them over the last few years and they've definitely been the form team in Europe.
"They've also proven to be the best team in the world at the moment, with their wins against the All Blacks.
"It feels a bit like knockout rugby – we get one shot at them, they get one shot at us too.
"That's the way it is. We've been the two better teams in the last few years and we meet in the first game. That's just how it is."
Te'o is likely to start at inside centre in Dublin, with the rugby league convert reporting he is fully fit after ankle and thigh injuries forced him to enter last year's Six Nations and autumn series with minimal game time in the bank.
Guiding the powerful 32-year-old's carrying game will be Owen Farrell, who is expected to recover from a thumb injury in time to lead a team positioned fourth in the global rankings.
Farrell will resume his rivalry with Jonathan Sexton and Te'o, who has played outside both fly-halves for Leinster, England and the British and Irish Lions, believes they are cut from the same cloth.
"Seeing Johnny on a daily basis for a season at Leinster, you understand why he's the player that he is," Te'o said.
"A lot of these very good players tick in the same way and Owen is pretty similar to him.
"They can both be quite confrontational, a bit aggressive. You've got one cranky guy on the other side and one cranky guy on our side.
"These guys are all the same – you go to different places and play different codes, but these guys are all the same.
"They want things done the right way, with intensity, and they love competing. They're both very demanding players and that's why they are the best.
"Johnny is a good mate of mine and I'm happy that he's getting that recognition now because he's worked very hard to get where he is."
One option available to Eddie Jones for the Dublin opener is to pair Te'o alongside Manu Tuilagi in a midfield partnership that was seen for six minutes in the second half of November's rout of Australia.
"Manu's a phenomenal athlete. He's been back at his club playing week in, week out and he looks sharp out there now. It all depends on what balance the coaches want," Te'o said.