A Six Nations Championship on the eve of a British and Irish Lions campaign always fizzes with more intensity than usual. Players push themselves to the very limit of their athletic abilities in a bid to impress the selectors and gain a coveted place on the aeroplane for a tour which, for most, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and the pinnacle of their rugby career.
Selection for the British and Irish Lions is "the pinnacle of your career", according to Rob Howley, who on Wednesday was confirmed as Warren Gatland's backs coach for next summer's series in New Zealand, where the world's most-famous rugby-playing tourists have won only one previous campaign.
The victorious British and Irish Lions squad returned from Australia as heroes this summer, having secured a historic first series win in 17 years. But if they're not adequately looked after, that could be as good as it gets for the triumphant tourists.
There is getting it wrong and there is getting it very wrong, and yes, safe to say, my fears and predictions for the last Lions Test were firmly in the latter. It is scant relief to know that I was far from alone, and not an excuse either, but it is a lesson in passing judgements without talking to any of the guys on the ground.
Melbourne is a place that likes to think of itself as the sporting capital of Australia. Given the Aussies obsession with anything that runs, jumps or plays with a ball, that probably makes Melbourne the sporting capital of the world.
The fundamental issue that breaks or makes any Lions tour is trust. Sounds obvious, as trust in any rugby team is vital, but there are the added elements of bugger all time and historic enemies at play within a Lions squad.
Knowing the physical barrage that will come his way in the form of the Lions team selection, Deans opted to fight fire with fire picking a big, hard running pack while his backline has mix of running strike power and game intelligence.
In no particular order, here are a group of people that probably made their parents and grandparents sob many a bucket's worth over the years...
We can all but guarantee that Wales will dominate the make-up of the squad. Best team in the Northern Hemisphere for the last two years and could you imagine Warren Gatland going back to Wales in the Autumn having left most of them on tour to Japan?
What has always made the Australians so dangerous is not the power of their forward pack, the skills and pace of their backline but their intelligence. The great Wallaby sides have always had dangerous attacking players out wide and bite and dog up front but more importantly they have often been two steps ahead of their opponents in how they want to play the game.