Munster forwards coach Graham Rowntree reckons this season’s Six Nations will be one of the most competitive in years.
The former England and Lions loosehead believes that if the form shown by teams in November carries forward, then Ireland are in with every chance.
He has been impressed with what Andy Farrell, his former England and Lions coaching colleague, has done since taking over from Joe Schmidt.
“I think it will be very competitive. There were so many teams showing good form in that autumn series, none more so than Ireland.
“What ‘Faz’ (Farrell) and those lads have done, a great victory against New Zealand, in particular, and the French, they are coming good. And I think that has helped French club rugby as well from what I can see.
“So, the usual suspects, I think it will be a great tournament but you can’t ignore the form of those teams from the autumn series,” said Rowntree.
While Rowntree will be keeping an eye on the Six Nations, his primary concern will be helping to steer Munster through their United Rugby Championship (URC) games when the internationals are away.
That series starts against Zebre in Parma on Saturday and Munster will then travel to Glasgow before hosting Edinburgh on February 18.
Their festive clash with Leinster, which fell victim to Covid, will now take place on the final weekend of the season, on May 20-22, but it remains to be seen if this can take place at Thomond Park because of an Ed Sheeran concert at the venue.
Their busy schedule during the Six Nations will continue against Dragons on March 5 before returning to South Africa for the re-fixed clashes against the Bulls and the Lions.
They then host Benetton before taking on Leinster at the Aviva and then the two Champions Cup clashes against Exeter Chiefs.