The 21-year-old Ulster back row, whose greatest rugby experience so far was playing against Toulouse in front of a 13,000-strong Ravenhill crowd last week, said: "If you ask any rugby player, all they dream of is getting an Ireland cap. That's why people play rugby - to represent their country at international level."
Luke Fitzgerald, the prodigious Leinster winger who scored his first try for the province in last Sunday's Heineken Cup defeat to Edinburgh at Murrayfield. Fitzgerald's father Des won the last of his 34 Ireland caps as a prop against Scotland in February 1992.
Fitzgerald's lightning pace has come through the genes from his hockey-playing mother. Despite his rapid elevation, the 19-year-old former Blackrock College schoolboy is keeping his feet firmly on the ground.
He said: "I haven't had time to worry about what's happening or think about my Ireland call-up. I've put all that to the back of my mind. Every day I'm just thinking about doing my weights, building my skills and becoming a better player. That's enough to worry about right there."
Munster and Ireland back row Denis Leamy, receives some treatment as some knocks from his province's brilliant Heineken Cup win over Bourgoin rear their heads. The Tipperary man, who turns 25 the day after Ireland take on the Pacific Islands (November 26), has yet to play against South Africa in his Test career but has lined out twice against Australia in the past twelve months.
Ulster winger Andrew Trimble does some work with team physio Cameron Steele on the tight hamstring that has been bothering him. Trimble, 22, has started Ireland's last six Test matches since coming on as a replacement in the RBS 6 Nations defeat to France last February. He has scored four tries in nine appearances.
Trimble, one of nine Ulster players in the present Ireland panel, worked on his fitness and went through some stretching while the majority of the squad participated in a non-contact training session at St. Gerard's.
Coach Eddie O'Sullivan said: "The only player we are worried about is Andrew Trimble, who has got a bit of a hamstring injury which has been bothering him for a while. We are hoping that will clear up."
Leinster number 8 Jamie Heaslip who will be hoping to make his senior bow during the Autumn Test Series, after making a sizeable impression for Ireland's 'A' team during their Churchill Cup campaign. The 23-year-old has a Mechanical Engineering degree from DCU.
Leinster and Ireland's Australian-born flanker Keith Gleeson has jumped back up the back row pecking order after a series of injuries and loss of form. Gleeson's last start for Ireland was during the 2004 Triple Crown-winning season against Italy, but he made two appearance as a replacement on the recent summer tour to New Zealand and Australia.
Leinster and Ireland lock Malcolm O'Kelly has all eyes on the ball, but is the Dubliner also eyeing up 100 caps for his country? The 32-year-old Lions tourist has taken the Irish caps record to 80 and with 14 Test matches, including Ireland's four pool matches at the World Cup, to be played between now and next September, the century mark could come within his sights.
Jamie Heaslip and Paul O'Connell compete for a lineout ball at St. Gerard's. O'Connell picked up the Player of the Year award at the Guinness Rugby Writers of Ireland luncheon at the Killiney Castle Hotel on Wednesday afternoon.
Eddie O'Sullivan whose Autumn Test match record - since taking over the Ireland reins from Warren Gatland in November 2001 - reads: played nine, won seven, lost two. The two defeats came last November against New Zealand and Australia at Lansdowne Road, while the wins have been against Australia, Fiji and Argentina (all 2002), South Africa, USA and Argentina (all 2004) and Romania (2005).
O'Sullivan talks to the press after training. The Corkman is looking ahead to the World Cup, with the tournament being only 11 months away, so experimentation in this upcoming Test Series is likely - in areas such as the half-backs, the front row and the back row.
**All photos by Dan Sheridan of Inpho Photography**
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