Picturedabove: Pat Lam, the Pacific Islanders coach, fields questions at thetourists' team announcement press conference in Dublin's BurlingtonHotel on Thursday.
Lam,who captained Northampton in their Heineken Cup final win over Munsterin 2000, rates Ireland highly and reckons they are blooding new playersat the right time. He said: "The consistency of the coaching staff, the players who havecome through - it has been a long-term plan - has really helped bringthe Irish game to a new level.
"We're facing up to guys like Brian O'Driscoll, Paul O'Connell and Malcolm O'Kelly plus a lot more. I didn't realise until we got to Ireland, to be honest, that O'Kellywasn't even in the starting line-up against South Africa and Australia.Hell, that's scary!
"They have a few young guys coming through, they have a good system forthat, and that's good because otherwise you end up with what happenedto England," added the former Samoan back row and captain.
Experienced Fijian lock Simon Raiwalui, whowill captain the Islanders for the third time this weekend, revealedthat the squad, with players hailing from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga, hasbonded together well on this trip, helped by some motivating messagesfrom their native lands.
He said: "We've had some great support from back home through emails and faxes. They do make a difference so please keep them coming as they mean a great deal to everybody concerned.
"It is a great honour to captain this squad - our confidence in one another is growing day by day and we are getting better day by day. We've scored seven good tries (on this tour) and we will be getting better."
Simon Raiwalui, Pat Lam and Shane Howarth, theIslanders' assistant coach (backs), are pictured at Thursday's teamannouncement press conference. The 38-year-old Howarth played for both the All Blacks and Walesduring his Test career. He scored a try for Wales in their 29-23 defeatto Ireland at Wembley Stadium in the 1999 Five Nations championship.
The fact that the Islanders' preparation time has been limited to their three weeks on tour has