No Paul O’Connel, Peter O’Mahony, Tommy Bowe and Iain Henderson. Ireland face an uphill battle to retain their Six Nations title for an unprecedented third time in a row.
We think however with the right team selection Ireland can very much be in with a shout of pulling off this amazing feat. The province’s haven’t been playing the best, more specifically Munster and Leinster haven’t been performing but we don’t think that is going to have as big an effect as everyone is suggesting. Munster and Leinster’s issues are blatantly coming down to their coaching and their gameplan. Anyone can see that. Ireland on the other hand have one of the best coaches in the land, a solid gamplan and will no doubt be the team to beat.
Hosting Wales in the opening game at home is the biggest advantage Joe Schmidt’s side have this year. For us, Wales pose the most difficult threat and playing them at home this year is a massive advantage. If Ireland can win this game then there’s a huge chance they will taste glory. Eddie Jones is a fantastic coach but Rome wasn’t built in a today. The English media as per usual will hype England up and are already favourites with most bookies to lift the title. The English media and fans always expect too much from their national sides. We have no doubt that over the next few years Eddie Jones will make them a force once again, but the man needs time. This will not be England’s year, trust us.
Ireland’s next huge advantage is the fact that they have Scotland at home- arguably the in-form team in the Six Nations at the moment after narrowly missing out on a Rugby World Cup semi-final. This is a game that Ireland can win and probably will. That leaves Guy Noves’ France and Italy left. Ireland have showed that regardless of performance they can grind out a win against Italy and to be quite frank we simply don’t rate France anymore. Since the dawn of the ‘Galactico’ Top 14, France’s national team has been in decline. A new coach isn’t going to automatically fix this. France are very much beatable- home or away.
It might not be pretty, it probably won’t be a Grand Slam, but there’s no doubt in our minds that Ireland will once again be the team to beat. Never bet against an Irish man, chances are you’ll probably end up losing.