We're determined to get off to flying start in interpro battles: Connacht's Roux
Connacht lock Quinn Roux has been in Ireland long enough to appreciate the festive interpro clashes have a special edge, but he can't recall a time when all four provinces have gone into the derbies in such flying form.
All four recorded double wins in December in Europe for the first time and Roux expects that to crank up the intensity as they tackle each other.
"I can't remember any time like this, all of the Irish provinces getting two wins (in Europe). And that's obviously very healthy for Irish rugby. It will be a massive weekend and everybody is looking forward to it," he said.
"There is always a bit of extra spice in the interpros whether it's home or away. It's always a big occasion for the players. But it's also a good spectacle for the people to come and watch two teams going at each other.
"I am really looking forward to the weekend and what it will bring," said the 27-year-old, who is now in his fourth year with Connacht having spent two seasons with Leinster when he arrived from South Africa.
Connacht face Ulster on Saturday at the Galway Sportsground in the first of the derby games - they are then away to Leinster and Munster - and Roux could come up against a couple of former team-mates in Rodney Ah You and John Cooney.
Scrum-half Cooney has really thrived since leaving Connacht and Roux knows what he is capable of delivering.
"He has really stepped up and taken his opportunity at Ulster. He has been playing really well. Hopefully he doesn't play that well this weekend. We will try and make it a bit tough for him," he said.
Roux won the last of his three Irish caps in Japan in the summer and, having not been included in the November series, he knows these derby matches are an opportunity to stake his claim for international duty.
"You always want to play well against Irish opposition and put your hand up if you can," he said.
"But you can only do that if you really play well and stick to what we do well and hopefully get a result. That's a good way of putting up your hand, that's what we will try and do.
"There are a big few weeks coming up for people who want to put their hand up.
"If you get the opportunity to play, you need to take advantage of it and step up to the challenge," he added.