Ireland flanker Simon Easterby has defended his inclusion in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash with Italy by claiming his form warrants selection.
Easterby's place is under threat from Leinster number eight Jamie Heaslip but coach Eddie O'Sullivan opted to retain the Llanelli skipper for the Croke Park opener.
Along with the vast majority of Ireland's squad, Easterby struggled during the World Cup with an impressive display against France his lone success.
Little comfort has been drawn from his return to provincial duty either thanks to a troubled Heineken Cup campaign that finished pointless.
But the 32-year-old remains a prominent figure in O'Sullivan's plans and the Ireland coach is hoping his loyalty will be rewarded during the Six Nations.
"Eddie has dropped me before and I have come back," said Easterby.
"I am not afraid of being dropped because at my age I go out to enjoy it as if it were my last game.
"You can never count on anything going on forever. I'm happy with my form at the moment.
"At Llanelli we have suffered from injuries a little bit and the form of several individually hasn't been great."
If Easterby fails to shine early in the Six Nations, O'Sullivan may find it impossible to persevere with his back row stalwart.
Impressive 24-year-old Heaslip has been championed as a Test star in waiting and would slot in at number eight, with Denis Leamy moving across to take Easterby's place on the blindside.
Leamy, another Irishman who endured a tortuous World Cup, has been rampant since taking over at number six for Munster and many feel it is his better position.
But the 26-year-old is content with the balance of Ireland's loose trio.
"I'm happy with the back row. We've played together a lot and know each other's games so well," he said.
"I'm delighted to be working with the two boys again. Jamie gives us an option off the bench - he can come on as an impact player and do well."