Munster flanker Denis Leamy has wrestled the number seven jersey from Johnny O'Connor - and he intends to remain Ireland's first choice openside.
O'Connor celebrated his Test debut against South Africa last November by producing an eye-catching performance and duly delivered more of the same against Argentina two weeks later.
But despite doing little wrong, he has lost his place to Leamy, whose blockbusting form for Heineken Cup quarter-finalists Munster has made his claims to selection impossible to ignore.
Coach Eddie O'Sullivan stated on Wednesday that he opted for the bulkier Leamy in recognition of the physical challenge Italy will present in their RBS 6 Nations opener at the Stadio Flaminio on Sunday.
But Leamy has no intention of letting O'Connor force his way back into the reckoning for the rest of the tournament - even if the Wasps back row has provided further fuel for his Test ambitions.
''The talent in the Irish back row is huge. There are some very good players fighting for a place so I'm delighted to be the one who has been given the chance,'' said the 23-year-old.
''I was hopeful that I would get the call. My form had been good in the Heineken Cup. I was delighted but not that surprised. I've come an awful long way in the last year.
''Everything seems to have fallen into place and I've had a very good run of it. Hopefully everything will go well on Sunday and I'll keep up that good run.''
He added: ''Johnny was fantastic during the autumn internationals - one of the top fellas on the pitch. He set the standard and showed me what was expected then. But I want to match that and hopefully go one better.''
Leamy was out for 10 months after suffering cruciate ligament damage, making his comeback against London Irish in August, and has been on a swift spiral upwards ever since.
He won his first and only cap against the United States in the autumn and used his involvement in the senior squad during that time as inspiration for his return to Munster.
He said: ''I was in and around the Ireland set-up and you can learn so much off the high standard of player involved at that level.
''That has been a big help to me. Being around the Ireland squad made me more confident and when I got back to provincial rugby I began to impose myself on games a little more.''
Italy Under-20s held off a late Samoa blitz to retain their place in the World Rugby U20 Championship on Saturday and head coach Alessandro Troncon believes the experience will have served as a valuable lesson for his young troops.