Welsh side Scarlets are also level on points with Leinster in third while Ulster occupy the final play-off spot in fourth.
The next couple of weeks see back-to-back league games for Leinster against Zebre and Ospreys, starting with a trip to Italy on Sunday.
The Irish side won the title in consecutive seasons in 2013 and 2014 but missed out on the play-offs altogether last year.
And McQuilkin believes this year's competition will go down to the wire.
"The competitiveness of the top four is dog-eat-dog stuff with how tight it is at the top of the table," he said.
"Everyone is looking forward to putting their best foot forward. I think these next couple of weeks will be crucial with regard to moving up and down the table.
"Then you've got to come through the interpros again and that's like having a scrap with your brother out in the back yard."
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