It's strange - I'm still looking at my Irish gear thinking I better wash it
Published 03/04/2015 | 02:30
After an experience to remember with Ireland in the last few weeks, this week has been all about getting back into the swing of things with Munster.
Different calls, coaches, and team-mates mean it's an alternative experience to the Ireland camp but the familiarity is nice and it's good to get back into the regular routine again after an unbelievable experience.
Going into a competition like the Six Nations you always expect it's going to be a hectic and intense time. It's eight weeks of-non stop concentration and hard work.
But at the same time that's something I enjoy. I like being up in camp and meeting up with the lads and being back together as a group. There is a real tight unit up there, with a lot of friendships made in the team so it's an easy transition from province to country. It is a great place to be, and the eight weeks fly when you look back at it and I'm sure everyone will have really good memories from it.
To win four from five games and take the championship was quite an achievement, but the perfectionist in all of us means that the Wales defeat still rankles a little. The way we started in that game and to go 12-0 down after 12 minutes was the killer blow for us.
And while that defeat meant things were a little bit harder than we would have liked on the last day in Murrayfield, it meant we were also given a day of Six Nations rugby to remember.
After we did the business against Scotland I really can't describe the nerves that we felt watching England v France, and then once the game ended the elation and emotion of the day just spilled out. It was quite special.
Right from the start of the day we knew something unique was happening. I think we were just finished our warm-up and we came back in to put our jerseys on and I heard the score of the Wales game. It was something like 14-13 to Wales at half-time when we were leaving our hotel and I didn't see Wales putting 61 points on them then.
That was a bit of a shock to the system. But we knew the points difference we had to go for, it made things a little bit harder again so it was just about going out and playing well. We needed to put in a performance, win the various battles and push on, because we knew we wouldn't get second chances against the Scots at home.
We all had a bite to eat after our game and kept one eye on the England game for a while, and towards the end we were pretty much all glued to it.
After all of that, to go back out into an empty Murrayfield to lift the cup would have been a bit of a downer, but credit to the Scottish or whoever organised it, there was a great Irish crowd back in there to cheer us on. My parents and sister were part of the crowd that came back in, they got to witness the scene, and having our families there to share it with us made the experience all the better when we did come back out.
Reflecting on the day - I think we are probably right to say it was the best full day of international rugby ever - we should be proud of the result we came away with in the game itself. When we look back at what Wales and England did against Scotland, our result against them was crucial. We went to Edinburgh and won by 30 points, Ireland's biggest winning margin over there. We can look back on that and take a lot of confidence from the day, the performance and producing it under pressure.
But the presentation of the trophy will stay with me for a long time. I can remember it so vividly. It's a great memory to have especially after the way everything unfolded. I thought we had lost it, I genuinely thought England were going to score and I knew if they did score George Ford was more than likely going to kick the conversion the way he was playing that day.
To put back-to-back Six Nations championships together is just an amazing feeling, it was better than last year's win. The way it happened was better. I am just delighted to have been part of it and it was a great end to a great campaign.
It is a bit strange - I am still looking at my Irish gear bag thinking I need to wash my gear. I don't know why it is still sitting there dirty but it's probably because I'm slowly but surely getting back in to the routine at home rather than camp. Getting back into the swing of things again takes time.
It is always good to get home, to sleep in my own bed and to meet up with all the Munster lads again.
Last week I took a few days off and went to Madrid with a few mates. It was pretty warm for this time of year which was a pleasant surprise, and we just spent some time enjoying the sites, food and the city. It was just what I needed.
After those five games I'm pretty lucky not to have any knocks to worry about. It was more of a general weariness for a couple of days and relaxing in Madrid was perfect.
We were supposed to go and see the Spain versus Ukraine game but it was moved to Seville, but we still managed to take in a tour of the Bernabeu which was impressive.
After a few days away, this week was all about reintegration into the Munster group. The boys were very impressive against Connacht and those five points could be a massive result before the end of this season.
This weekend will be strange not to be involved in the Champions Cup, but all focus is on our last four Pro12 games. We still have silverware on our minds here as well, and it is definitely what we are working towards, to end the campaign on a high.