Ireland may be closing in on a Grand Slam decider against Wales but winger Denis Hickie insists his side have not looked beyond Saturday's Dublin showdown with France.
A winner-takes-all clash between the Celtic rivals at the Millennium Stadium would provide a dramatic climax to a fascinating RBS 6 Nations championship but Ireland could see their hopes hijacked by the French.
France have beaten the Irish in their previous two meetings and will present the biggest threat to their title aspirations in the tournament to date when they run out at Lansdowne Road.
But Hickie claims the initial euphoria gained from overcoming England in their last championship outing has been replaced by an understanding of the challenge that awaits on Saturday.
"There was a bit of high in the aftermath of the England game - people got a bit carried away by thinking beyond the next match," said the 29-year-old Leinster winger, who will be winning his 50th cap on Saturday.
"But that was never the case within the team itself. There is the realisation that it is France we are playing next and Irish rugby is not in the position where it can afford to think of them as anything other than very tough opposition."
Hickie lines up with Kevin Maggs on the inside - the veteran Ulster centre was given the nod when it became apparent Gordon D'Arcy and Shane Horgan would not overcome their injury problems.
Maggs will win his 68th cap when he resumes his midfield partnership with Brian O'Driscoll, and Hickie believes Ireland's backline will function with its usual potency despite the change in personnel.
"There is no concern with Maggs coming into the side. He has got more experience than a lot of the guys already there. He has been ticking away with Ulster while he showed what he can do in the game against Scotland," he said.
"His presence is not going to change things that much and while it is a blow that Gordon and Shane are not going to play, it's great to have a guy of that experience coming in. It says a lot for our strength in depth."
Wales' acting head coach Rob Howley has given Sam Davies and Rory Thornton a boost ahead of the RBS 6 Nations by naming the uncapped Ospreys duo in his largely experienced squad for the Autumn Internationals.