Munster and Ireland captain Paul O’Connell says the Irish provinces’ stunning form this season has given Declan Kidney’s side just the boost they need ahead of their Six Nations clash with Wales.
While Wales inflicted two painful defeats on Ireland last year in the Six Nations and World Cup, O’Connell’s troops head into the match as favourites at the Aviva Stadium.
Not least because of the form of RaboDirect PRO12 sides Munster, Leinster and Ulster. The former two are in the top four of the league and all three are through to the Heineken Cup knockout phases compared to just one Welsh representative – Cardiff Blues.
And it is that sort of momentum which O’Connell is hoping to capitalise on.
He said: “It is good that we have guys coming into camp confident and showing form. That is a big thing.
“The Six Nations is another level up, but a lot of what we do in the provinces is very similar to what we do here — it’s just different calls and with different people.
“The biggest factor is the form guys are bringing with them. They have been playing really well for their provinces, playing high-intensity rugby, and that can only be a good thing.
"When guys are winning high-pressure games, as well, that is a good thing bringing that into the national set-up.
“It is the first game of the Six Nations for both teams. There has been a lot of talk about this game since last year’s Six Nations and the World Cup, and I would expect an incredibly physical game.”