Earning his first two Ireland caps in the summer was a timely boost for Ulster lock Matt McCullough ahead of the new season.
Mark McCall's Ulster get their Celtic League campaign underway away to Cardiff Blues on Friday and McCullough, named in the side alongside Wallaby lock Justin Harrison, will be hoping for a morale-boosting win on what is a landmark night for the Ballymena tyro.
McCullough will be earning his 50th cap for the province on the night as well as celebrating his 24th birthday, and the former Ireland Under-21 captain is banking on his international experience he gained against Japan last June to springboard him to further success in 2005/06.
Reflectin on his Ireland senior debut - a 44-12 win over the Japanese in Tokyo - McCullough said: "It was just the boost I needed coming into the pre-season and it really makes this season really very exciting for me.
"It was obviously tremendous to get that first cap with Roger (Wilson) and Simon (Best) in the lineout beside me as well as having David Humphreys as captain of the side. David has been a big influence on me.
"Kevin (Maggs) and Tommy (Bowe) were there as well and it was great to have that Ulster influence on that side which won the first test against Japan," he told the News Letter.
McCullough is determined to help Ulster maintain and build on that representation in Eddie O'Sullivan's squad for the autumn Tests and beyond.
"There has also been a lot of talk more recently that we (Ulster) will have more representation on the international stage.
"It was obviously an ambition of mine and remains so in the future to play for Ireland again."