PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES:
- ON THE SELECTION FOR SATURDAY'S TEST -
"We hoped to give some guys a go who weren't involved over the last two games but injuries limited that - two of those guys - Rory (Best) and Matt (McCullough) - got injured this week. We wanted to get some new players on the pitch.
"I wanted to look again at the way Andrew Trimble and Gordon D'Arcy played together in the midfield because they looked very good as a partnership against Australia.
"The back row have also been playing very well. For me, Denis Leamy has been the success of the autumn internationals and he had two mammoth games against Australia and New Zealand - his chemistry with Johnny O'Connor is good.
"We're trying to build for the Six Nations. I do need to look at some other options. Alan Quinlan has had to go in for surgery this morning (Tuesday) on his ACL, so I had to look elsewhere, and the form player is Neil Best, and that's why he's come in there."
- ON THE CHALLENGE POSED BY ROMANIA -
"If you look through their line-up, all of their pack play professionally in France. I think about 12 of the team are playing in France and their midfield combination play club rugby together - so they're a strong outfit.
"We have some videos from the Scottish and Japanese games (that Romania played) and their pack look a formidable bunch. As a team, they're on the rise - they're ever-improving and were a tough nut to crack at the last World Cup.
"Romania are well able to play rugby - they're not an amateur side by any means. They're very strong in the scrum, and their loose-head (Petru Vladimir) Balan plays for Biarritz. He's a very good ball-carrier, and a very hard man.
"They're a rugged side up front, and even though they might not be as experienced behind the scrum, they always get a good platform to work off."
- ON BEING NAMED AS CAPTAIN -
"It's a huge honour to captain any team, but to captain your country is as big a honour as you can have in the game. Obviously, for those of us who haven't played very much, just getting a game is a big enough deal in itself, but captaining the side is going to add to the enjoyment of it.
"But I see this as a great opportunity to get another run out at Lansdowne Road, which is what every Irish player aspires to.
"From my point of view as a fly-half, you're pretty much running the show anyway, so adding the captaincy to that really doesn't change too much.
"We've got plenty of guys in the squad who do plenty of talking, so I won't have to do much unless I feel I have something to add."
- ON HIS PLAYING FUTURE -
"It's (Playing at the 2007 World Cup) something I hadn't even considered until I had an informal chat with Eddie (O'Sullivan). That's as far as it's got.
"Obviously, I had always planned to retire at the end of this season (at 34 and with a legal job waiting in Belfast) so this is something I'm going to have to consider over the next two months.
"I'll just have to sit down with people whose judgment I respect, have a good chat with them, and, hopefully, come to the right decision.
"At this stage, I'm just considering all the options. I'm not veering either way at the moment. Rugby aside, there are also a number of other issues involved in it."
- ON THE INFLUENCE OF ULSTER'S GOOD FORM -
"I think this time last year, if I was in the same situation (thinking about retirement), I probably wasn't enjoying rugby as much as I would need to keep going.
"Because Ulster have done very well this year there's a really good buzz about the squad and everybody is enjoying it. It's all those small things that will ultimately be a big influence on whatever happens. But there have been no negotiations or anything, so maybe these are moot points.
"It's just been informal discussions at this stage and it hasn't really been that sort of discussion. There's been no pressure. In some ways, it's a good situation to be in - I think I've got choices. It's not something I was expecting but time will tell."