The Official Online RBS 6 Nations Store is open. The store has everything you need to get behind your team during the RBS 6 Nations, plus the store is now fully stocked with a much wider range of rugby merchandise.
With the World Cup now receding into the distance, the Lions tour represents the next major milestone for players from the British Isles.
But Irvine made it clear the selectors will have to start the process of selecting players with a completely open mind, giving all players a clean slate to make their mark in the RBS 6 Nations, which kicks off on February 4.
“The Six Nations is the tournament that will decide Lions selection,” said Irvine, a Lions hero in his own right after touring in 1974, 1977 and 1980.
“There may well be one or two uncapped players that force their way into the reckoning but on the whole it is going to be performances in the Six Nations that we will attach greatest weight to.
“It is the tournament that pits all the players against one and another and it is what we have seen in the past to be the case.
“What has happened at the World Cup or previously is in the past now, the race for places starts now and in the 2012 Six Nations.
“I am sure that will be in the back of players’ minds and you will slowly see performances improve over the next 18 months.”
Before the playing list is drawn up however a decision on the head coach will need to be reached and Irving confirmed a shortlist has been drawn up and a decision is likely to be reached after the RBS 6 Nations has concluded.
Preference will be weighted towards a candidate from the British Isles, but Irvine confirmed whoever is appointed will not be able to have any direct involvement in the 2013 RBS 6 Nations.
He added: "The Lions coach will not be involved in the 2013 Six Nations. He will need to be free of international commitments so he can look at players from the four home unions and be at different matches, and that would include the 2012 autumn series.
"We have a completely open mind for the 2013 tour on who it (coach) will be. Whoever the coach is will be taking a year out. He does not have to come from the home unions and we could look worldwide, but ideally the head coach will come from a union associated with the Lions.
"Ian McGeechan has not ruled himself out entirely. He did indicate that 2009 would be his last tour, but he has said nothing definitive and he has to be an option.
"It is such a highly-prized job that we will not be short of candidates. To play for the Lions is the ultimate, and to coach the Lions is pretty close to that. We would like Declan Kidney, Andy Robinson and Warren Gatland to all be available. I think all three would be available if required."