"It's going to be a bit weird to have people cheering you (at Ravenhill) instead of jeering you, but I always liked the place despite the stick we had to take in my couple of visits to the ground.
"It'll be great to have the Ulster crowd behind us and it'll be great to see what that's like. I think it's good for us to have a home fixture away from our normal headquarters.
"I wasn't involved in the Italy game a couple of years ago when Ireland played at Thomond Park but I believe that the crowd got behind the team that night and the players put in a massive performance because of it. So, hopefully we'll hit the ground running on Friday night."
ON STEPPING IN AS CAPTAIN:
"I'm comfortable with it. Itâ00s unfortunate that Brian (O'Driscoll) got injured, but this is very much a team thing. From four years ago, when we lost to Australia in a game we should have won, we have come a long way. I think in the same circumstances we would win that game now.
â00The fact that Brian hasnâ00t been there didn't have an adverse affect on training. Everyone in the squad knows about what he brings to training and they set out to get to the same level. They wanted to find the same type of form. Everything was up there this week - we can work all the time in training but we need matches to put all the hard work to the test. After the two matches, people have come out a bit from within and it has shown in the intensity of the training sessions weâ00ve had this week."
ON FRANCE'S DISPLAY AGAINST ENGLAND:
"I thought the French were excellent, particularly in the last 15 minutes when they put the English under an awful lot of pressure. They were outstanding and if that's the kind of form they'll be in at the World Cup then we're going to find it very tough against them. But we're two weeks into our matches now so the excuses are gone. The last two days have probably the best training sessions we've had in a long time so, hopefully, we'll show some good form as well on Friday."
ON WHAT HE EXPECTS FROM ITALY:
"You always expect a pick-and-go game against the Italians, with plenty of mauling and tough scrummaging. You've to defend hard around the rucks and you know that they're going to defend just as hard when you run at them in the same positions.
"It's always the same against Italy and we'll be ready for that. I think this kind of game will be very good preparation for us coming into the games against Georgia, France and Argentina."