Flanker Alan Quinlan insists the RBS 6 Nations starts now for Munster's Irish internationals as they prepare to return for the Heineken Cup clash with Treviso.
The IRFU’s player management programme has forced several internationals, including skipper Paul O’Connell and Donncha O’Callaghan, to sit out for Munster in recent weeks.
Tony McGahan’s side have laboured as a result seeing off Connacht 35-3 on Boxing Day but slumping to Ulster 15-10 on January 2.
But with O’Connell and co all set to return – Quinlan, who missed last year’s Lions tour to South Africa after being banned for eye gouging, insists Ireland’s Grand Slam defence is about to take off.
“Guys are going to be fresh now and we’re all chomping at the bit to get back playing again and that is a positive thing,” said Quinlan.
“Obviously the momentum has been broken up a bit, but that’s just the way it has to be. You can’t just play week-in, week-out with the internationals on the scene.
“In some ways it could be better, but then guys are risking injury. Every time we play we want to try and play well, get a good performance and gain a bit of momentum.
“It has been a bit of a stutter for us since the start of the season, but I think it can be the case that we peak at the right time this year.”