New-boy Kevin McLaughlin has jumped out of the shadow of Rocky Elsom and insists he's ready for his big chance in an Ireland shirt.
The 25-year-old almost quit the game last season with opportunities behind Elsom at Leinster few and far between.
But after flanker Elsom returned home to Australia McLaughlin has flourished at the RDS Arena and has been rewarded with a debut in the RBS 6 Nations opener against Italy with Stephen Ferris absent through injury.
McLaughlin said: “The coaching staff at Leinster have been good to me and kept faith with me.
“Luckily I’ve repaid them by improving and now I’ve got my chance in the Irish set-up.
“Last season was tough not getting any game time with Rocky in front of me but that has just allowed me to appreciate this season all the more.
“I’ve come through it and I’ve got some reward – last season I was looking at careers other than rugby.”