Dan Tuohy had the biggest smile in the Aviva Stadium after Ireland’s victory over Scotland in the Six Nations.
The Ulster lock was due to be on the bench for the championship opener, but with captain Paul O’Connell ruled out with a chest infection Tuohy was promoted to the starting line-up.
It was his first Six Nations start and his first game for Ireland in Dublin with all his previous seven caps coming on the road.
“I woke up this morning, got my porridge and was about to sit down. Then I got pulled to one side by John Plumtree who said Paul has been ill last night, he was up to the early hours with a chest infection and that I was starting,” said Tuohy.
“I thought he was joking then the smile came off his face when I knew he was serious, so I thought to myself I’ve prepped well this week because you always have to prepare well in case you come on in the first five minutes when you’re on the bench so I knew myself that that was in the bank.
“It was just a case of getting my head around that I was in from the start so I had a few hours to get my head around that and it was just a case of getting on with it.”
Tuohy admitted it took him a while to settle into the game.
“It took me 15 minutes to get into the game. I was was a little bit behind the pace and it sort of took me by surprise but that was just a consequence of not really knowing.
“After 10 to 15 minutes I knew I was in the game and I sort of settled and got used to the pace and I was pretty pleased with my performance.
“It is just important to start the game and do something whether it is a big hit, a lineout steal, big scrum or a big carry just something to get you into the game hands on the ball a couple of times just to relax you a little bit.
“I found the tempo of the game and we had to defend a lot in the first half so we didn’t have a great amount of ball, we reassessed at half time and it was a much more comfortable second half for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Tuohy was delighted to get his chance he went on the summer tour to North America but was overlooked in the autumn.
“I was quite public in telling everybody that I had been pestering Joe for and opportunity and sometimes they just come out of the blue, I was on the bench it was an opportunity not an ideal situation for everyone involved to lose our captain but sometimes when the opportunity comes you just have to get it while you can.”
I’ve been knocking on Joe’s door for November and this series and he give me that opportunity on the bench and I’m thankfully he relied on me to start.”
“I was frustrated in November and had chats with Joe and he said I need more consistency and I felt I showed that and it was reflective on me being on the bench, I togged out for the Wolfhounds and played 80 minutes last week and it is just great to know he has the belief in me to perform at this level.”