Ireland's Six Nations campaign gets underway tomorrow afternoon, but it is difficult to know where this team is at ahead of the tournament.
They had a thoroughly disappointing autumn campaign, limping to a defeat in their final Six Nations game in Paris. The Autumn Nations Cup was equally as underwhelming, even if they did lose only one game in the competition.
A much improved showing will certainly be needed in the coming weeks in order to ease the pressure building on head coach Andy Farrell. Paul O'Connell will have a part to play in that.
The Ireland legend has been drafted into Farrell's coaching staff in recent weeks, with his main duty being to ease the line-out problems which have plagued the team over the last 12 months.
Many are expecting him to have a big impact, although how much how can do in such a short window remains to be seen.
Speaking on Virgin Media this afternoon Matt Williams said that while he expects O'Connell to have an excellent coaching career, the public should perhaps temper their expectations ahead of this campaign.
"Poor Paulie, I felt so sorry for him during the week! He's carrying the burden of the entire nation!"
Matt Williams on the feelgood factor Paul O'Connell's arrival has given the Ireland camp. #GuinnessSixNations #VMTVRugby pic.twitter.com/4fv2epFdBE
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) February 6, 2021
Poor Paulie, I felt so sorry for him during the week. He's carrying the burden of the entire nation already...
That's not fair on Paul. I really want Paul to be successful and I think he will be, but his job is to fix the line-out. He's not playing so we've got to keep everything in proportion here.
Paul is a very young coach. He was an iconic player and an iconic sportsman, but he has only coached for a year at Stade Francais and that was tough for him. I don't blame him for that, it was a terrible environment and he will be a better coach for it.
Paul is only starting out on that journey. We've seen greats like Martin Johnston, who was an equally all-time great second-row and Lions captain, fail. That was a head coaches role and I don't think that will happen to Paul because he is an assistant coach.
Ireland will get their season underway in Cardiff tomorrow afternoon, where a win will be required if they are to launch a successful Six Nations campaign.