By Micil Glennon
Former Ireland second-row Malcolm O’Kelly says that even Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell will have to fight for their places in Declan Kidney’s team.
Ireland thrashed Argentina in Lansdowne Road on Saturday with the backline scoring six of seven tries and lock Donnacha Ryan winning Man of the Match.
O’Kelly says that these players are now in the strongest position to start in the Six Nations.
"I think the guys coming back in, like Paul O’Connell and Brian O’Driscoll, have to prove that they are capable of taking on that green jersey," O’Kelly told RTÉ Sport.
"There is no right to ownership of the Irish jersey, they’ll know themselves. They will back their own ability as well but if they are 100%, they’ll think they are good enough and that’s then for Declan Kidney to make his decision on.
"He knows now that he’s got players that he can trust as well as the players that are coming in and it’s a good position for Kidney to be in."
"Paul O’Connell and Brian O’Driscoll have to prove that they are capable of taking on that green jersey" - Malcolm O’Kelly
Ireland endured a miserable 2012, losing to Wales, England, South Africa and going down 60-0 to New Zealand in the last of three tour defeats against the All Blacks.
However, the win over the Pumas, with encouraging performances from the likes of Craig Gilroy, Simon Zebo, Jonathan Sexton and Ryan means that Ireland can look forward to the opening championship game, away to Wales on 2 February, with optimism, according to the former Leinster man.
O’Kelly, winner of 92 caps, added: "There is nothing like a big victory and you could see by the way they played that it wasn’t in any way lucky.
"It was well-structured, the game plan they took in was very obvious and they knew exactly how to break down Argentina. The skill level was very high and Argentina couldn’t live with it.
"The players will see that their work has borne fruit.
"There is obviously a number of key senior players that will more than likely be fit, but the players that finish with the jersey have the right to be in it for the next time around, especially with a convincing win like that."