Prop James Cronin, who won his first Ireland cap in the second Test win over Argentina last month, told the Munster Rugby website about his Argentinian experience and the return to pre-season training with Munster.
Having secured a Munster development contract at the start of last season, such was the impressiveness of his form, December saw James Cronin awarded a two-year contract extension that will keep him at the province until at least June 2016.
Closing out the season with 26 appearances for Munster - seven of which were in the Heineken Cup - he did enough to earn inclusion in Ireland's summer tour of Argentina, winning his first cap on June 14 in the 23-17 win over the Pumas.
Reflecting on his debut in the green jersey, Cronin told www.MunsterRugby.ie: "It was a dream come true to get a taste of what international rugby is like. To be the first Ballincollig RFC player to be capped was an honour.
"The messages of support sent home and given to my mother when she met people on the street were very humbling. Hopefully it's just a start and the goal now is to kick on and get more caps.
"Just to be on the tour was a great experience, and the amount I learnt in those two weeks was massive. When you train and play alongside the best players in the country you can only progress and I will be a better player for the experience.
"That said, we have a really good set-up here in Munster and what you cannot do is rest on your laurels.
"While I obviously took some confidence from my Irish experience there are a lot of good young guys coming through the system here, fellas who are driven and champing at the bit so that keeps me focused on what I need to do in Munster first and foremost."
With a new European competition (the Champions Cup) placing greater importance on GUINNESS PRO12 results, and coupled with his own international ambitions, it is shaping up to be an important season for the Ballincollig native.
"People talk about 'second season syndrome' and that's one thing I plan on avoiding. The new European qualification system makes no difference to our preparation because we go out to win every single game we play in and nothing will change this year," explained Cronin.
Finally, how has the 23-year-old front rower found the first week back at training? "To be honest every first week of pre-season is dreaded and filled with a lot of drool too as fellas are pushed hard!
"This week has been very tough and you can never really prepare yourself properly until you have that first week down. Once you're through it you can kick on from there."
Ulster took advantage of their rearranged round 12 game against the Newport Gwent Dragons last Friday night to claim a late victory that saw them take over at the top of the GUINNESS PRO12 table for the first time this season.
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