10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
McFadden will join Luke Fitzgerald and Keith Earls in a fleet-footed, exciting back-three for Saturday afternoon's clash with Italy at Stadio Flaminio.
The 24-year-old centre-cum-winger was capped for Ireland at underage and Universities level before excelling in the Ireland 'A' side's successful Churchill Cup run in the summer of 2009, when he was named the Player of the Tournament.
He has kicked on this season, scoring five tries in 17 appearances for his native province, and comes into his first RBS 6 Nations as one of Irish rugby's form backs.
"I feel my progress this season has been quite good and since I got moved to the wing by Joe (Schmidt) with Leinster, I feel like I was doing a job there," explained McFadden, who will start on the right wing against the Italians.
"Obviously Declan (Kidney) thought that too, and he's backed me and picked me for the weekend. So, it's an exciting week for me and I can't wait for Saturday.
"I was originally with the Wolfhounds last week and I was due to play in that match over in Scotland and then when I heard Shane (Horgan) had a problem with his knee and obviously Andrew (Trimble) had a broken hand and Tommy (Bowe) didn't come through his scan, I suppose there was an opening there, but there's still a lot of good players left."
Having the options despite those injuries has been key in Kidney's building of a squad, which is something McFadden noted.
"The strength in depth in Ireland is one of the add-ons that we have brought into Irish rugby over the last three, probably four years.
"There is still good competition there and I suppose training yesterday things were looking positive for me in training, but you are still never going to make any presumptions.
"My heart was beating pretty fast when he was calling out the team and thankfully I was on the teamsheet, so (I'm) over the moon."
The Curragh man's focus now turns to Saturday. Facing Italy in Rome in your first Test match may be a daunting prospect, but McFadden will not alter his approach.
"I am sure I'll be nervous coming up to the game, but I am nervous before every game. I am always nervous that I'm going to go out there and not perform to my best.
"But I think that is the way you have to go out for every game. It's going to be the same this Saturday, it's going
to be a big test."
Kidney knows McFadden has the attributes to past that test with flying colours. "Fergus just needs to keep doing what he's doing, that's what has got him here," he said.
"I think the risk is when you get to play your first Test match that you have to do something special. He doesn't. He just has to go out and enjoy himself and do exactly what he's been doing over the past couple of years."
|RBS 6 Nations Table|