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Kidney buoyed by tight championship

Ireland coach Declan Kidney is predicting a ferociously contested RBS 6 Nations that is unlikely to produce a Grand Slam winner.

The Irish have been installed as fourth favourites to win the championship, behind World Cup finalists France, Wales and England.

"I'm not a regular reader of the odds but I imagine they're tight because it's as tight a championship as there's ever been," said Kidney.

"It comes just after a World Cup year and look what happened to Wales after 2007 - they failed to reach the knockout stages in France but went on to win the 2008 Grand Slam.

"Whoever comes out of the traps running will have a good tournament.

"It will be very hard to win all five matches and if a team does that then all credit to them.

"The championship could be decided by points difference. Each match is like a cup final in its own right."

Irish rugby is buoyant after Leinster, Munster and Ulster all reached the quarter-finals of European competition for the first time and Kidney hopes to tap into the provinces' success.

"If we can win the first match then we'll build a bit of momentum with the lads having done so well with their provinces," said Kidney.

"While the success in the Heineken Cup doesn't score you any points in the Six Nations, it allows you to go to work in good form."

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