We have three incredibly competitive games ahead of us in November
Ireland coach Declan Kidney wasted no time in calling up former Cheetahs hooker Richardt Strauss into the squad that will face South Africa next month.
Kidney on Wednesday unveiled a 31-man Ireland squad - including four uncapped players - for the year-end Tests games against South Africa, Fiji and Argentina.
Centre Luke Marshall and forward Iain Henderson, who were involved in the Ireland training camp in September, have been named in the squad - along with prop David Kilcoyne and Strauss, who is now eligible to play for Ireland based on his residency for the past three years.
The 26-year-old Bloemfontein-born converted flank and Under-19 World Cup winner with South Africa becomes eligible to play for Ireland at the beginning of November and thus is in line to make his debut, most likely off the bench, against his native country on November 10.
A Currie Cup winner with the Free State Cheetahs, Strauss joined Leinster in the 2009-10 season, arriving in November of that campaign.
Although he made only one start that season, his form was sensational in Leinster’s Heineken Cup-winning campaign of 2010-11, and while there was less of the sensational carrying last season he was still Leinster’s starting hooker as they retained their trophy.
He has rediscovered his best form this season, especially at the breakdown.
As he has now started 56 games for Leinster, and in effect has remained their first-choice hooker ahead of Seán Cronin - Ireland’s back-up hooker to Rory Best for the last two seasons.
In addition to the naming of the Ireland squad for the year-end Tests, there were also changes announced to the makeup of the national coaching staff with current Munster Assistant Coach and former international Anthony Foley joining the Ireland coaching team.
Foley will be now be leading the defence plans and systems allowing assistant coach Les Kiss to lead the attack shape for the team as well as continue to coach the backline. Foley will remain working with Munster outside of the international window. It was also confirmed that Leinster scrum coach, Greg Feek will continue providing his expertise to the Ireland team during competition time.
"We have three incredibly competitive games ahead of us in November," Kidney said.
"While there have been quite a few injuries and niggles in the early part of the season, it has opened up opportunities for other players to step into the squad.
"There are world ranking points on offer, so the underlying challenge for us is to work towards retaining and improving our ranking position ahead of the World Cup pool draw.
"While that is the end goal, our focus will be getting our preparations right to match the intensity of international games.
"I'm pleased that Anthony has taken up the offer of working with the squad to assist during this vital period in November. His previous experience of working with the team during the last Six Nations championship was important, but his own abilities and experience were central to bringing him onboard. I would like to thank Rob Penney and Joe Schmidt for being so positive and giving Anthony Foley and Greg [Feek] the scope to be part of the plans that we have."
Foley said: "I was delighted when Declan approached Rob and me about the possibility of working with the Ireland team again. I enjoyed the opportunity I got during the Six Nations working with the players and I felt once we were all comfortable with the balance between Munster and Ireland, I jumped at the chance. I certainly feel I can contribute positively and when you get the chance to coach with your country, you don't want to pass it up."
Ticket sales have reached over 46,000 for the South Africa game, with only a limited number of categories available.
While the Argentina game is a full month away, ticket sales are at just over 37,000 tickets and are selling quickly and have already surpassed the attendance the last time Argentina visited Dublin.
Ireland: Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster), Tommy Bowe (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Darren Cave (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), Tom Court (Malone/Ulster), Gordon D'Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster), Keith Earls (Thomond/Munster), Stephen Ferris (Dungannon/Ulster), Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster), Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster), Iain Henderson (Queens University/Ulster), Chris Henry (Malone/Ulster), David Kilcoyne (UL Bohemians/Munster), Luke Marshall (Ballymena/Ulster), John Muldoon (Galwegians/Connacht), Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster), Mike McCarthy (Buccaneers/Connacht), Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster), Kevin McLaughlin (St. Mary's College/Leinster), Donncha O'Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster), Paul O'Connell (Young Munster/Munster), Brian O'Driscoll (captain - UCD/Leinster), Ronan O'Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster), Peter O'Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster), Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster), Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster), Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster), Jonathan Sexton (St.Mary's College/Leinster), Richardt Strauss (Old Wesley/Leinster), Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster), Dan Tuohy (Ballymena/Ulster).