Rob Henderson – Six Nations Preview
Any five of the Six Nations teams can win the tournament
Now of course, being slightly biased, I am going to say Ireland are going to win. And they have a chance. The problem is I genuinely believe you can say the same about five of the six teams in this year’s Six Nations.
Everyone loves the Six Nations and I feel fortunate to have gone from watching it, to playing in it, to be back watching it.
And this year’s tournament has the potential to be the best Six Nations ever.
You can make a case for most teams
Just going through the five strongest nations – and we will come onto Italy in a minute – and you can certainly say any of them could win.
France are resurgent, they have added steel to go with their flair and they enjoyed a great win over the All Blacks.
Wales might be a little in transition mode and have lost some real leaders to injury, but they have exciting young players who will pose a problem on any day.
Scotland will be strong on the back of the Glasgow and Edinburgh sides doing so well, domestically and in Europe. They have strength in depth and will relish that first match against England.
England themselves have a strong case. They were unbeaten in the Autumn internationals and are another who have a good mix of youth and experience.
Will Irish eyes be smiling?
Like with Scotland and England, Ireland have a blend of seasoned internationals and some superb young players who are just starting their international journey.
Ireland seem to have a conveyor belt of talent when it comes to the pack and the key positions could be 9 and 10.
The likes of Conor Murray, Jamison Gibson-Park and the ever-eternal Johnny Sexton need to stay fit and make an impact. If they do, Ireland will be a really tough proposition for anyone.
Who I am looking forward to seeing most? It has to be Tadhg Beirne whose evolution over the last couple of seasons has been sensational.
The Italians are also starting to challenge
It would be remiss of me to not even mention the Italians. Now I don’t expect them to challenge for silverware, but I also think the days of big defeats are long gone.
They are beginning to perform well and I think they are starting to challenge.
When you add them to the mix of the five other countries, I really think we are in for an exciting tournament.
The importance of game one
It is so important to get off to a good start and this weekend is shaping up to be a real cracker.
It used to be that Ireland would win in Wales and vice-versa, but both have now bucked that trend. So home advantage could be key and Ireland will be only too aware of that.