RUGBY NEWS - Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has urged his players to be fearless in pursuit of Six Nations glory, saying the title remains "there to be won".
The Irish were left to dwell on a 24-12 defeat to England in February after the coronavirus pandemic forced the postponement of matches.
The outstanding fixtures will now take place in late October, with Ireland requiring two bonus-point victories for a chance of championship success.
Farrell admits his side face an uphill task but said Ireland still had "a little bit of destiny" in their own hands.
"We were gutted that the competition didn't keep rolling on because obviously after a disappointing game against England the only thing that the boys wanted to do was get back on the horse again," he told irishrugby.ie.
Italy visit Dublin on October 24, with Ireland travelling to Paris to face France a week later.
"All the lads are aware what is coming around the corner for them, in so far as the big games for the provinces first which will get them selected to get them back into that Six Nations and it's there to be won," he said.
"We've got to be hungry to do that and not be frightened by that."
Eddie Jones's England top the Six Nations standings with 13 points, ahead of France on points difference, with fourth-placed Ireland four points adrift.
Fiji and Japan are understood to be joining the Six Nations teams for an eight-team tournament after the conclusion of the Six Nations, replacing the traditional internationals against the southern hemisphere's top sides.
Farrell is looking forward to a fresh "World Cup-like" competition and having his squad together for an extended period of time.
"Along with the two games that we have left in the Six Nations it could mean that we are together for eight or nine weeks, which is great for us.
"The calendar is packed obviously but it's packed with quality, quality games and it's what we all want to be part of."