Ireland number eight Anthony Foley claims the national side have benefited enormously from Munster's transformation into Heineken Cup heavyweights.
Munster provided five members of the starting line-up which accounted for England in Sunday's RBS 6 Nations clash at Lansdowne Road.
Although they have so far failed to win the Heineken Cup, the provincial outfit feature regularly at the business end of the tournament and reached two semi-finals under departing coach Alan Gaffney.
Foley believes the experience gained by players such as Peter Stringer, Ronan O'Gara and John Hayes from the competition have helped elevate Ireland to the status of serious title contenders.
He said: "Munster clicked into gear in 1999-2000 and the momentum that was created from the Heineken Cup helped a lot of players move up to the national team - guys like Stringer, O'Gara and Hayes.
"These guys were catapulted onto the Test scene and haven't looked back since. They are all established internationals now and their experience of playing at such a high level with Munster has helped Ireland."
Peter O'Mahony was named man of the match against England last month
21 April 2017, 7:22pm
Peter O'Mahony's performance in the RBS 6 Nations finale for Ireland against England was crucial to his selection for the British & Irish Lions on Wednesday, Ireland and Lions defence coach Andy Farrell has revealed.