Luke Fitzgerald is looking forward to being in the thick of the action against New Zealand in Ireland's one-off Test match on Saturday.
The 20-year-old Dubliner has been named in the centres alongside skipper and Leinster team-mate Brian O’Driscoll and is relishing the prospect of his positional switch after his two most recent appearances on the wing during the RBS 6 Nations.
“Getting my hands on the ball is the most enjoyable aspect of playing at centre. I feel that you can have a bigger impact on the game from centre whereas you’re more of a bystander on the wing,” he said.
“With my background as a full-back or winger I’m probably seen as more of a strike player. But I’d like to think I have the capability to use my hands as well.”
Fitzgerald, who made his international debut against the Pacific Islanders in 2006, is also ready for whatever his opposite number, New Zealand’s powerful 104kg inside centre Ma’a Nonu, has to throw at him.
“I think I’ve come on an awful lot on defence and think I showed that in the Barbarians game so I’m not too worried about that part of the game.”
Fitzgerald, the son of former Ireland prop Des, is a big fan of New Zealand rugby and rates Nonu, who has a strong running game and a great ability to break the line as well as good distribution skills, highly.
“He’s a fantastic player, obviously a physical specimen. But I don’t know if he’s given enough credit for his skills, he’s a really talented player. I’m sure it will be a challenge for us but we’re looking forward to it.”
O’Driscoll, who only had his first training run with the team yesterday after joining the squad late due to the death of a close friend, insisted there was never any doubt he would be making the trip Down Under.
“It (last week) was a brutal week in my life and in a lot of my friends’ lives and one that came as a shock. Rugby was secondary for that period of time,” he said.
“But then my friend’s dad said that he expected me to go on tour and that was all the convincing I needed.”