The general consensus is that Ireland are in good shape ahead of this year’s Natwest Six Nations and that an away trip to France next weekend is seen as a not so daunting opener.

It’s a view that was shared by Donal Lenihan, Fiona Coughlan and Eddie O’Sullivan on RTÉ’s Against The Head, with Lenihan highlighting "the real feel-good factor around Irish rugby" at the moment.

The Corkman also welcomed the infusion of youth into Joe Schmidt’s squad.

"There is a lot of young blood coming through, a lot of these lads are putting their hands up so there is a nice mix to the Irish squad at the moment," he outlined.

"It will be interesting to see what kind of opportunities these young players might get, given the hype surrounding Ireland. Will they be able to deal with it especially going to Paris next Saturday?"

Coughlan referred to the depth in the squad. "The competition for places is unbelievable, our injury profile is quite low," she added.

"I'd imagine the intensity at training is quite high with lads pushing for inclusion in the final squad.

"There are people left out of the 36-man squad that you would have thought were good enough to be there. Overall, there's a lot of work being done at the underage level, in the academies and in the provinces."

O’Sullivan feels the schedule is in Ireland’s favour as they strive for a first Grand Slam since 2009.

"In this even year, you have England and France away which is normally not good news as it’s difficult to win in London and Paris in the same season.

"The fact that we have France first up and then three home matches is good. The French are vulnerable at the moment. If we can win Paris we should be heading to Twickenham with a shot at a Grand Slam. I know it's easier said than done. It's well stacked up for us if it goes that way."

Listen to commentary on France v Ireland (4.45pm kick-off) from Michael Corcoran and Donal Lenihan on RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday Sport, or follow live blog on RTÉ Sport Online.