Leinster hooker John Fogarty insists he's desperate to win his first Irish cap during the RBS 6 Nations after coming within a whisker of his international debut in November.
With first-choice No.2 Jerry Flannery suffering with a calf injury Fogarty was placed on red alert for the clash with Australia after 23-year-old understudy Sean Cronin was judged too inexperienced to start.
However Flannery passed a late fitness test and Cronin retained his place on the bench, leaving the 32-year-old former Connacht and Munster forward still waiting to make his international bow.
But with Ireland’s title defence kicking off against Italy at Croke Park on February 6, Fogarty is eager to make up for lost time.
“Of course I’d love a cap and it wouldn’t bother me if I was nipping in the back door,” said Fogarty. “What happened in November gives you an even bigger hunger for it.
“They weren’t going to make a decision on Fla until after the warm-up. I bumped into him at the hotel and wished him all the best with the calf – but you still hope to play. It’s natural. He’d be the same.
“I suppose some part of you is expecting to be all right about not playing. You’re only there as 23rd man. But I had to keep thinking that I was starting.
“You’re in the huddle, nodding at things people are saying, getting a bit of a sweat on. Then there’s a tap on the shoulder. It’s Deccie [head coach Declan Kidney]. Fla’s good to go. Thanks very much.
“And that was it. I was back inside having a shower when the anthems were being played.”