Picturedabove: Ireland's new caps Jamie Heaslip, Luke Fitzgerald and StephenFerris, along with one-cap out-half Paddy Wallace, who will make hisfirst start for Ireland this Sunday, line up at the team hotel inKilliney.
Wallace, 27, is delighted to be given a shot at number 10 and is determined to carry on the good work that Ronan O'Gara has put in over the past fortnight. Ahead of Sunday's Test match against the Pacific Islanders, the Ballymena clubman said: "It was great to get my first cap against South Africa and a relief to get that monkey off my back and now I'm starting.
"I have been playing at number 10 in training for the last few weeks soI'm comfortable with the job in hand. I'm following in some famousfootsteps - Rog (O'Gara) and Humph (David Humphreys) - and I want to do the shirt justice."
Although admitting that he "feels like an old man" rooming with Luke Fitzgerald in the team hotel, Leinster number 8 Jamie Heaslip isstill only 22 and on the cusp of a great international career. TheKildare youngster is bidding to make the most of a "great opportunity"to play against the Islanders.
He conceded: "I've been working hard for the past year when I brokeinto the Leinster side. It's great to get the call, especially into theback row that Ireland have - the depth is something else. I'm delighted to come in and show my trade a bit."
World Cup selection will certainly be acarrot for Heaslip, but the former IRB Under-21 World Player of theYear nominee just wants to concentrate on the here and now. "I wouldn'tget carried away and look that far ahead (to the World Cup). All I can do is plan for the game on Sunday and get my head on.I'd love to play at the World Cup but I'm going to have to play well onSunday and for Leinster for the rest of the season. I'll have to playwell in those games, but Sunday is my main concern."
The young Dubliner beamed: "I'm absolutely delighted about the call-up.Up until now my greatest thrill had been playing in the Heineken Cupbut I'm really looking forward to gaining the experience with Ireland.
"I'm always excited when I pull on an Ireland jersey and I'm surerunning out onto the pitch in front of a full house at Lansdowne Roadwill be a great thing."
Stephen Ferris, thetireless Ulster back row, has been one of the players to rise to thetop of the provincial ranks in recent months, having had a big say inhis province winning the Celtic League title in May. Notably, the21-year-old has never played previously at Lansdowne Road- the closest he came to lining out at headquarters was an AIB Leaguegame for Dungannon against Lansdowne, but he missed it for "some reasonor another."
Luke Fitzgerald summed up the feelings of his fellow debutants by saying: "It's a great honour to be involved in the last Irish team to play at Lansdowne Road. I hope to take the opportunity and hopefully impress a few people.
"I'd love to break into the Leinster squad over the rest of the seasonand hopefully impress there as well. I don't think you can get carriedaway with the selection for one match, you have to do your best withthe opportunities you have and I aim to do that."
**All photos by Billy Stickland of Inpho Photography**
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