This years Six Nations at the halfway stage. Good to see Ireland in pole position heading towards the biggest weekend of the tournament. Genuinely Ireland, although shaky at points against Italy, looked their best for seasons in closing out a great French side. O’Driscoll is looking his sharpest for seasons and O’Connell seems to be much more instrumental in the leadership of the side, good sign for the Lions and O’Driscoll is clearly benefiting from the assistance. Kearney is full of confidence, O’Callaghans last two games have been his best for Ireland. Wallace has found his back row colleagues raising their game to match his. O’Gara needs to find some form but he is still a quality player and is distributing well enough so it would be hard to call him a weak link. The front rows work around the field is admirable but still fail to inspire confidence at the scrummage. The real worry is eyes start drifting towards the big decider at the Millennium, it would be oh so England of England to come to Dublin and upset the party. They have found some players this tournament, even if they are a long way from being a cohesive unit, with a bit more confidence and a captain they could have gone in front against Wales and turned the game around. If Martin Johnson can find a bit of belief and admit to himself and the rest of the world that selecting Andy Goode maybe a safety first policy, but an incredibly negative policy all the same, and leave him out from the start they could be a real problem.
For me though, the real problem of next weekend is for Wales. I can’t help but feel the Friday evening kick off will be just enough to have them start out of sorts, allowing the French to get the crowd on their side and get to their unpredictable best. I get the feeling Gatland may opt to start Henson which could be, drunken shenanigans aside, a selection disaster waiting to happen.