Ireland's tag as favourites for this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship is realistic. For the first time since the tournament has involved six teams they have a good chance of winning it.
Eddie O'Sullivan's side have a good blend of youth and experience and they are improving all the time. For the first time in a long time the squad has the strength in depth to cope with injuries.
Ireland have definitely improved from previous Six Nations campaigns but they have to play every game on its merits, as hard as they possibly can. They can't afford to take anything for granted. If they do at any stage they will slip up.
It will be enjoyable to play at Croke Park this year. They are very lucky to have had the opportunity. They will love playing in a big stadium with a predominantly Irish support in it. It's going to be an incredible atmosphere but they won't be overawed.
Despite the World Cup in France fast approaching the team will be concentrating entirely on the Six Nations. It's the old maxim of one game at a time.
Beside Ireland, Wales have a chance of winning the competition this year depending on their injuries and if they can get the same team on the park for each match.
France will also be strong and it will be interesting to see the teams they put out after Bernard Laporte went on record to say he would chop and change the side.
Josh Strauss has a Scotland call-up in the back of his mind but the Glasgow Warriors back-row admits he must build on an impressive first two seasons in the country to catch Vern Cotter's attention in time for the World Cup.