A Six Nations following a World Cup can often bring about a classic state of flux: too soon to be talking about the next battle for the Webb Ellis trophy – while still getting accustomed to the disappointment of what happened only a few months earlier.
For Ireland, the echoes of that disappointment from 14 October still reverberate.
That said, with new faces getting their chance, Andy Farrell’s side have made a brilliant start to their grand slam defence on the back of an impressive showing away to France and then never having to move through the gears to account for Italy on Sunday.
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Wales are next up at the Aviva Stadium, before a trip to Twickenham and perhaps the most difficult assignment on the way to achieving back-to-back clean sweeps.
Ireland are in a good place. Elsewhere, it would seem the opposition are at a different level. A level that RTÉ pundit Stephen Ferris was quick to criticise when speaking on 2fm’s Game On.
“I feel that the Six Nations, the skill, the intensity, the teams that are in it – apart from Ireland – it feels like it’s way off,” the former Irish international bemoaned.
“There’s something not right. Maybe it’s a hangover from the World Cup; everybody was so into the World Cup. The skill level has been pretty poor. Hopefully it picks up over the next couple of weeks.”
Indeed, Ferris’ view is shared by others.
He continued: “People that have been watching the Six Nations are saying that they can’t get into it this year. I’m wondering ‘what do you mean?’ And the response I’m getting is that the ‘games have been a bit rubbish and the World Cup was so good so you can’t get into it this year’.
“I don’t think the teams have given us anything to get into. Apart from Ireland, the teams have been pretty poor, the standard has been poor. Hopefully there’s time to raise it up a few levels.”
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