Scrum-half Kathryn Dane insists Ireland won't be daunted by the opening week displays from England and France in the Women's Six Nations.
Ireland begin their campaign on Saturday evening away to a Wales side who conceded 53-points without reply in their opening weekend defeat to France.
Meanwhile, Grand Slam-winners of the past two years England opened their account with a 52-10 victory at home to Scotland.
Having spit seventeen of the last nineteen championships between them, England and France are again viewed as strong favourites for this very different Women's Six Nations.
But Dane insists the Ireland squad aren't feeling intimidated by the illustrious opposition lying in wait.
"I feel like we're in the strongest position we've ever been as a squad," the Ulster scrum-half said, "We've had all that time to grow as a team and I think that will really stand to us.
"Certainly, we're feeling up for an upset."
While confident in the squad's ability, Dane is fully aware of the qualities possessed by both France and England.
Given the format of the competition this year, a meeting with the Red Rose may not come to pass, but the French visit Donnybrook on Saturday-week (April 17).
Dane concedes their is a gap between the top two and the rest, but cannot be overawed by it.
"It's definitely there," she told a press conference, "I'm not too concerned, I'm just worrying about ourselves and what we can do.
"The IRFU have been great in giving us the resources that we need to perform.
"The picture might change in a couple of years, and we could be operating at that semi-professional or professional level like England and France.
"For the time being, we're doing great with what we've got."
Given the disrupted nature of the last twelve months, Ireland have had 20 training camps with nothing at the end of them.
Maintaining focus and motivation has been tough, according to Dane, but she's now itching to get out onto the pitch at the Arms Park on Saturday evening.
"We've done all the hard work of the physical preparation, our detail, our skill execution," she said, "It's now just a mindset thing of getting on the pitch and starting fast, from the very fast.
"We've been a little bit guilty of it in the past: against Italy there when we started slow, and played to other teams paces.
"[But] we're hoping to start fast, and bring the intensity from the beginning."
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