Click here for photos of Ireland's new caps - Jamie Heaslip, Luke Fitzgerald and Stephen Ferris - from Wednesday's press conference at the Killiney Castle Hotel.
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 19-year-old winger Luke Fitzgerald cannotwait to make his senior debut for Ireland this Sunday. In doing so, hewill be become the youngest player to don an Irish jersey sinceUlster's Alistair McKibbin did so against Wales in 1977.
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**
Exclusive Access, Tickets, Competitions and Much More
The Ireland Under-18 and Under-19 squads had a busy Easter period with seven matches played in Ashbourne, Cardiff, Llanelli, Caerphilly and Bordeaux. Check out some of the tries scored. Full match reports are available on www.irishrugby.ie.
Speaking to RTE Radio rugby correspondent Michael Corcoran, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt was asked about prioritising players playing in Ireland when it comes to national selection over those who are based overseas.
In an interview broadcast on RTE Radio 1's 'Sunday Sport' programme, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt discussed the challenges and opportunities presented by the summer tour to the USA and Japan, and also looked ahead to next month's Rugby World Cup Pool Draw.
Speaking about working with the provinces and monitoring players' progress, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt told RTE Radio 1: "For us, having the best quality of performance within the provinces, getting some really good coaching from the provincial coaches, which we know is happening at the moment, that's the foundation that we need because in the end we get the players in a match week pretty much."
In an interview with RTE Radio rugby correspondent Michael Corcoran, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt confirmed that Girvan Dempsey, Felix Jones and Ronan O'Gara will be incorporated into the coaching group for the upcoming summer tour to the USA and Japan.
IRFU National Talent Development Manager Hendrik Kruger says the Easter age-grade internationals give the Ireland Under-18 and Under-19 players 'the chance to represent their country and experience international rugby' and are 'the highlight of their season'.
The Ireland Under-18 Clubs & Schools team (sponsored by PwC) played the England U-18 Counties side in the first of two matches at Ashbourne RFC this week. Check out the highlights from Wednesday's entertaining clash.
Four of our stadiums through the eyes of four Irish sporting legends. O'Driscoll on Aviva Stadium, Brogan on Croke Park, Matthews on Kingspan Stadium and O'Connell on Thomond Park. The world is invited #Ireland2023.
Irish Rugby TV caught up with flanker Sean O'Brien to get his reaction following Ireland's hard-earned 13-9 victory over RBS 6 Nations champions England. He singled out man-of-the-match Peter O'Mahony for special praise.
Peter O'Mahony reflects on what went wrong for Ireland in Cardiff and tells Irish Rugby TV that he is focusing on the squad and their work this week ahead of the final Six Nations game against England.
The Ireland squad paid a visit to Monaghan last week and held an open training session in Monaghan RFC. We spoke to Andrew Trimble after the session which was attended by over 2,000 cheering supporters.