Ulster winger Craig Gilroy admitted his hard work is paying off after giving Declan Kidney a selection headache ahead of Ireland’s clash with Argentina next Saturday.
The 21-year-old, who has two tries in seven RaboDirect PRO12 appearances this season, claimed a hat-trick as Ireland sealed an emphatic 53-0 victory over Fiji at Thomond Park.
Gilroy was just one of three Ulster players making their debuts for Ireland with inside-centre Luke Marshall, who also crossed, and out-half Paddy Jackson, who added 13 points with the boot, lining up among alongside him.
And Gilroy, who announced himself on the European stage at the same ground last April with a memorable try in the Heineken Cup quarter-finals against Munster, was thrilled to take his chance.
“It is something that I have worked towards really hard and I’m glad I took my opportunity,” said Gilroy.
“The Ulster lads did well but I thought the team, as a whole, were great.
“We've only been together a short while but we've gelled really quickly and I think that showed.
“Any chance I get to put on the jersey and play for my country is a big step for me.”
Leinster’s Fergus McFadden also impressed, the 26-year-old going over twice and filling in as makeshift flanker when Chris Henry was sent to the sin-bin – and Kidney reserved special mention for his wingers.
“There were a lot of young men out there having their first go and I think it would be wrong to single any one player out,” said Kidney.
“Craig [Gilroy] seemed to enjoy it. I’m sure Fergus [McFadden] will remind him that he was in the scrum that led to one of his tries.
“It was a good team effort and the wingers, well it’s their job to finish the chances when they come to them. Fair play to him, he took his chances when they came his way.”