Peter O'Mahony has rubbished the suggestion that Ireland have regressed in recent months.
Hopes were high after an impressive string of results last November which included victories over New Zealand and Australia.
The Six Nations campaign got off to a dreadful start as Ireland lost to Scotland on the opening day.
Victories over Italy and France were followed by a 22-9 loss to Wales in Cardiff, unbeaten England come to town on Saturday looking to seal a slam.
They demolished Scotland to clinch the title with an impressive 61-21 win at Twickenham.
The Munster back-rower feels talk of their demise is way off the mark:
“We really are close, we know we are and we believe,” O’Mahony told reporters in Carton House on Monday.
“Four months ago, you go and beat the All Blacks and it’s a different press conference to what we’re having now.
“It’s not like we’ve thrown everything out and done something different. It’s the same squad, we’ve just got to finish off the small things and we can beat any team in the world on our day.”
O’Mahony says there’s more than just pride on the line for Ireland when Eddie Jones and his England team roll into town.
Stopping England’s historic double Grand Slam isn’t part of the plan, for the Munster skipper their more concerned with putting in a good performance:
“We’re not going to go out with the idea of trying to do something negative for someone else, it’s about getting something out of the game for us.
“There’s a huge amount to get out of it for us, there’s rankings which are hugely important for the next World Cup.
“There’s us playing at home in the Six Nations in the Aviva, the fans are always so good to us we want to put in a performance for them and the people that are close to us.
“There’s a huge amount, there’s a huge carrot for us to perform well and win at the weekend.”
With the form England are in, going for a record breaking 19 test wins in a row O’Mahony reckons Ireland would be foolish not to fear England:
"There's a fear factor with any team coming to the Aviva. You want to win at home at all costs. There's a huge amount at stake for us.
"They're coming over to win the Grand Slam, but there's so may carrots for us to finish on a positive note, put the jersey back in a place you can be proud of and know you've left it in a good place.