Ireland captain Johnny Sexton has said that the form of the four provinces - or indeed any of the clubs in the Six Nations - "has no correlation" - to what we can expect from the six Northern Hemisphere nations who'll be locking horns next month.
All four sides are through to the knockout stages in the Champions Cup as well as all four occupy a spot in the top 8 in the URC. They've been incredibly strong among all competitions, in Europe there was only 4 losses out of the 16 matches the Irish provinces had, one of them being 28-0 walkover Leinster had against Montpellier and two of the others being the incredible clashes Connacht had with England's best team Leicester Tigers where they could've easily won both.
Therefore it would be fair to say that the National team would be in a very good spot off the back of the club form but captain Johnny Sexton begs to differ. At the media launch for the 2022 Guinness Six Nations, Sexton spoke about how club form goes out the window once you're in the Six Nations;
To be honest, it has no correlation to how the Six Nations starts.
I can rewind five or six years ago when the provinces were flying Welsh struggling and then they beat us. There is no correlation between province form and international form, once we come into the Ireland environment and put on our jerseys, we believe we are one team and leave the provinces at the door.
We will be focussed on preparing for the reigning champions. Wales almost won the Grand Slam last year and then had a great November. Facing them is all we have on our minds.”
Wales in particular have been in turmoil at club level. No teams went through to the knockouts of the Champions Cup and only Ospreys look like they'll compete in the URC this season. This along with a long list of injuries, has lead to expectations being set low by many for Wales in the tournament. But Andy Farrell knows that they'll show up and perform once the Six Nations comes around;
We all know how the Welsh come together and how they are a proud rugby nation.
They certainly lift when they come together and they have some world class players in their team that will push them. We expect them to be at their brimming best in a couple of weeks’ time.
Sexton mentioned how from playing with Welsh players throughout his career, he knows that they'll always perform when they put on the red jersey of Wales.
I know a lot of these players from being on Lions tour with them, from playing with them at Racing years ago as well and their big focus is playing for Wales, it means so much to them. When these guys come into Wales camp, it's all the work for and what they dream of doing, they're a very proud rugby nation and when they come together they're always better than the sum of their parts.
They're reigning champions, these problems that are in the regions were there last year and they won a Six Nations, they were there when they won a Grand Slam.
It's not something we're focused on, we're focused on playing Wales and we're expecting the biggest challenge we can face.
The reigning Six Nations Champions Wales visit Dublin on Saturday 5th February for the Six Nations opener.