Brian O'Driscoll believes there is less pressure on Ireland than in previous years following last season's RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam.
The Irish captain lifted his country’s first Grand Slam in 61 years last year, ending a decade of personal disappointments in his quest to end that run.
O’Driscoll and co. now have the carrot of becoming the first side to win back-to-back Grand Slams since the Five Nations became the Six Nations in 2000.
And while that will bring an extra pressure, O’Driscoll insists it doesn’t compare to the weight of expectation that surrounded last year’s Grand Slam.
“We aren’t carrying the same weight of history on our shoulders anymore,” said O’Driscoll, speaking at the RBS 6 Nations launch at the Hurlingham Club.
“Winning after 61 years was something we were desperate to do, something that was an albatross round our necks.
“Last year the Grand Slam was so special because I knew how hard it had been to win it.
“Not just how hard it was during last year’s actual Six Nations but also how hard it was leading up to it in all the campaigns where we have fallen short and the mental obstacles that have been placed in our way.
“Perhaps with that relieved the pressure is actually less this year than in the past.
“You know that people want you to win, the Irish expect you to win, but that’s just what Irish people are like.
“Now we have the chance to do something no team has done – win back-to-back Six Nations.”