Off The Ball pre-tournament panel look ahead to Wales game and beyond
As Ireland prepare for a tough Six Nations opener against Wales on Sunday, we were joined by an impressive panel of guests at Off The Ball's Limerick Roadshow.
Joining Brian O'Driscoll were Keith Wood, ex-Wales scrum-half Dwayne Peel, Tony Ward, Liam Toland and Mick Galwey to look ahead to the first game and tournament.
"[Wales] are favourites for the whole thing. I think they will just edge us on the weekend. I just fancy the quality of their front five is superior to ours and I think we're going to miss, obviously Paul O'Connell and in his absence Iain Henderson and his dynamism and his ball-carrying. I just think we're lacking a small bit of steel there. My concern is that we will go down early on and it's going to be a tough road."
"I don't think there will be a Grand Slam [for any team]. I think there's just too many variables in there with different coaches, different philosophies. My tip for it are Wales which sickens me, I have to say, and I'm hoping we can turn some of that around at the weekend.
"But I don't know if our confidence is up to the level that we'd really want first out against Wales. I think we might lose by three or four points at the weekend."
The Six Nations Trophy ©INPHO/James Crombie
"It's the most open Six Nations we've had for many, many years which makes it very, very interesting on the back of the World Cup. The one word I think that is not over-played is momentum and that's why the first series of games are absolutely vital.
"To that end I think England have a very difficult game going to Scotland. If they win that, I think they're in with a real chance of winning the championship outright. That said, I go along with both Liam and Woody. I fancy Wales to beat us on Saturday. I think they're in a good position."
"It could go down to the last day, it could go down to the last hours. That's the great thing about this Six Nations. It is even again. I honestly think we can beat Wales on Sunday. But I've a funny feeling about England. I think England could be the Six Nations champions. But like Keith said, there won't be any Grand Slams or Triple Crowns, for that matter."
"Wales have to be the favourites at this point, the way the tournament is laid out. For me, the point of contact is hugely important where Ireland attack traditionally.
"Paul O'Connell's stats around breakdown were awesome because of his work ethic but two because the ruck is close to where he started the journey. So if we continue to play a tight, narrow game, I think we're going to struggle against Wales. We need something slightly different."
"I'm going to have to say Wales to be honest. I look at us on paper and we look strong. I think the squad is strong and the 23 is strong and experienced."