DONAL LENIHAN: Even in January, thoughts are already turning towards Japan

In recent years, the drama and gripping competitiveness on offer throughout the final two rounds of Champions Cup action meant the Six Nations championship crept up almost unnoticed.

Not this year.

MAKE READY: Peter O’Mahony during squad training at Carton House yesterday as Ireland prepare to face England. Picture: Bryan Keane

In fact, this is the most anticipated Six Nations tournament I can remember for some time. There’s a number of reasons for that. All of the home countries recorded notable wins over southern hemisphere opposition last November and the form-lines for Ireland, England, Wales and Scotland heading into this tournament suggests they all have good reason to fancy their chances of delivering a highly-competitive and successful campaign.

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