Donnacha Ryan believes squad rotation and the high pressure atmosphere Ireland experience during training should bear fruit on the pitch when they take the field against Scotland this weekend.
The Munster and Ireland second row has been out with a knee injury since November, but could to be involved for his province over the next few weeks having had a positive update from his surgeon yesterday and hopes to be involved in the RaboDirect Pro12 over the next few weeks.
The Ireland management team has left the door open for Ryan to be involved in the second half of the Six Nations campaign.
For now, though Ryan is an observer.
The 30-year-old, who also missed Ireland’s November series, has watched Ireland’s preparations and believes new head coach Joe Schmidt’s methods will yield dividends over the coming five matches.
Speaking to the RTÉ Rugby podcast, he said: "You can see what Joe has done. He has created a rotation policy with a lot of players and has given a lot of guys exposure. From experiencing his training sessions, he keeps guys on their toes.”
Schmidt has made numerous leftfield selections in the past and in Ryan’s view, that uncertainty is carried through on the training pitch and creates a sharper environment.
He added: “On previous occasions you would have known the team from an earlier stage. Now guys are rotated in and out (during training) and it gives more times for reps and more familiarity with one another – throwers and jumpers, and nines and tens.
"The more familiarity you build with one another in the pressure situations that Joe creates in training (means) guys can subconsciously deliver on the field, and that’s basically something to be optimistic about.”
Despite the fact that he has been on the periphery, Ryan’s own dealings with Schmidt have also been positive.
He said: “He is a very approachable guy, very straight and very concise in his delivery and that is what most players want – clarity and structure. It makes it quite easy for feedback purposes.”
And despite Schmidt’s reputation for attacking rugby, Ryan expects Ireland to take an attritional approach, with a big focus on scrum and lineout maul.
He added: “It is going to be cagey for the first 20 or 30 minutes but I think Ireland will definitely win if they get their systems right and are as accurate as possible.”