Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan doesn’t believe any Six Nations side has a realistic chance of winning the Grand Slam this year.
The Irish are favouries going into this year’s competition, but while O’Sullivan is happy to accept that tag, he believes talk of a Grand Slam is premature.
“There’s a sense of deja vu in that two years ago everybody was tipping us to go all the way,” O’Sullivan said at the championship launch in London.
“We probably deserved to be favourites that year as well but I remember thinking it strange that nobody was talking about Wales. I knew for certain that Wales were building nicely and would go well.
“Wales took the Grand Slam back then, finishing with a fine win over us in Cardiff, as it happens, but I don’t think there will be too many Grand Slams in the future. I certainly don’t expect there to be one this season. Everybody is just too close.”
Ireland have moved to No 3 in the world following November victories against the Boks and Wallabies. A Six Nations win would made them favourites to at least reach the semi-finals of the World Cup later this year.
Ireland squad – Forwards: N Best, R Best, S Best (all Ulster), S Easterby (Llanelli), J Flannery, J Hayes, M Horan, D Leamy, D O’Callaghan, P O’Connell, M O’Driscoll (all Munster), M O’Kelly (Leinster), F Sheahan (Munster), D Wallace (Munster). Backs: I Boss (Ulster), G Dempsey, G D’Arcy, D Hickie (all Leinster), G Murphy (Leicester), B O’Driscoll (Leinster, capt), R O’Gara, P Stringer (both Munster), A Trimble, P Wallace (both Ulster).