The Leinster No8 has been selected ahead of club-mate Brian O’Driscoll to lead Ireland’s bid to win a first championship since 2009.
A dramatic defeat to Wales in the opening round last year left the Men in Green facing an uphill struggle from the off before defeat to England in their final game saw them ultimately finish third.
Declan Kidney’s side again launch their campaign against Wales on February 2 but while Heaslip admits there’ll be no easy games, he is backing his side to thrive at the Millennium Stadium and beyond.
“I don’t mind being the underdog,” said the 29-year-old, speaking at the Six Nations 2013 launch in London.
“France had a good summer tour, had a good November Series, I’d the pleasure of playing against Clermont twice this year and they’re going quite well. Italy keep on getting better, they are a very physical side.
“Wales, despite the results in the November Series, we know all too well are a very good side, and England had a tremendous November Series as well. I think it’s wide open.
“I always say you are what you do every day and if we train well, then hopefully consistency of play will be of a high standard as well.
“We have a lot of young guys, a couple of guys with no caps, guys with less than ten caps, then there’s guys with over 100 caps. We have a good eclectic mix of players there, we’re just driving the standard of training up.
“A lot of people think they (Wales) are not on form from the November Series, but you look at most of their games, they were just a score or two away from quite a different series.”
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BIOGRAPHY: Cesc Fabregas