Italy prop Andrea Lo Cicero admits he has come a long way since he first pulled on the Azzurri shirt almost five years ago.
The L'Aquila Rugby powerhouse made his bow for his country in a 59-12 defeat against England during the 2000 Six Nations as a nervy 23-year-old, charged with the difficult task of filling the boots of legendary Azzurri prop forward and skipper Massimo Cuttita.
However, Lo Cicero adapted to international rugby with remarkable ease and now, with almost 40 caps to his name, he is one of the most respected front-rowers on the planet.
He said: "I remember when I made my Italy debut and my main target was to not let the Azzurri fans down because they idolised Massimo Cuttita, and all eyes were on me so the pressure was high.
"But, after playing for many years and gaining experience, I'm lucky enough to still be a part of this formidable team."
Lo Cicero was the only European player in the Barbarian line-up that faced the All Blacks at Twickenham a fortnight ago and even managed to cross for a try.
"That was a very good surprise for me. To be invited to be part of the Barbarians team is a real honour and something that does not happen every day," he added.
"To be the only player from the northern hemisphere made me happy and proud."
Now the Sicilian is now looking forward to the 2005 RBS 6 Nations tournament and is determined John Kirwan's team will go into the campaign aiming for more than merely avoiding the wooden spoon.
"I really believe in the next RBS 6 Nations our team has all the ingredients to do well," he said.
"Even though we are still a young team in search of experience I think with three games at home we can create a few surprises and maybe get more than the usual single victory.
"We do not fear nobody. We respect all the teams, especially the French and English but also the Welsh are improving faster than ever and will be very hard to beat even at home."
Peter O'Mahony was named man of the match against England last month
21 April 2017, 7:22pm
Peter O'Mahony's performance in the RBS 6 Nations finale for Ireland against England was crucial to his selection for the British & Irish Lions on Wednesday, Ireland and Lions defence coach Andy Farrell has revealed.