Ulster centre Darren Cave is in line to start for Ireland against Fiji on Saturday – but he doesn’t feel the burden of replacing Brian O’Driscoll is too much to bear.
Cave has made six RaboDirect PRO12 appearances this term but has found caps in the green jersey harder to come by while O’Driscoll has been fit.
He’s turned out three times for Ireland since his debut in 2009, and while Cave admits that’s too sporadic for his liking the calibre of player ahead of him is no reason to be downhearted.
The 25-year-old has seen off potential challengers at domestic level, Tommy Bowe being one, and he’s desperate to put down a marker at international level this weekend.
Cave told the Irish Examiner: “[Being overlooked] can be frustrating but it’s something I’m used to.
“As soon as Tommy Bowe signed back for Ulster last season, everyone was saying Tommy is coming back to play centre for Ulster and I suppose myself and Paddy Wallace were looking at each other, thinking ‘what have we done wrong?’
“We played in a lot of big games last year for Ulster, played against a lot of good centres but I didn’t feel out of my depth at any stage.
“I think a couple of seasons ago I missed most of the season, last season I played a lot of rugby but it was just that crucial time in the Six Nations when Brian was out with a shoulder and neck problem and I was out injured, but I can’t control that.
“I’m fit and healthy at the minute and there’s plenty of rugby going, hopefully I’ll get a game somewhere.”