Darren Cave back from the cold and ready for challenge
Darren Cave has admitted it is time to "stop complaining and start playing well" after being parachuted into the Ireland side to face Georgia tomorrow.
The Ulster centre spent last week holidaying in New York while Ireland saw off South Africa 29-15 in Dublin, only to be called into the squad on Sunday night.
Two weeks ago boss Joe Schmidt told Cave he was omitted from Ireland's 37-man autumn squad, only to bring the 27-year-old quickly back in from the cold.
Cave slammed his limited Test chances last year, claiming his "face doesn't fit" in the Ireland set-up - but is now keen to put his controversial past to bed.
"It's important not to feel sorry for yourself: just keep improving, improving and improving," said Cave of previous battles for Test opportunities.
"The one thing that I probably found most frustrating is that I think I probably have improved a lot since 2009.
"When I first got in the squad in 2009 I was just there because I was a young lad, I hadn't really done a lot but I'd played okay and was maybe someone for the future.
"I feel I have improved a lot in those five or six years, and that was probably what can be frustrating.
"But now here's an opportunity for me to stop complaining and start playing well.
"I was on holiday last week in New York - I had a good time.
"It's all happened quickly, I haven't had time to sit and worry about everything - so that's a good thing."
Head coach Schmidt hotly refuted influencing provincial selection last month, after suggestions the national set-up had urged UIster to switch Jared Payne from full-back to outside centre.
Former New Zealand Under-21 cap Payne claimed his first Ireland cap in last weekend's Springboks victory, but hobbled off in the closing stages with a foot sprain.
Payne's injury has opened the door for Cave's recall, with Schmidt making 13 changes from the South Africa starting XV for Sunday's Georgia clash.
Payne's outside centre switch has limited Cave's opportunities at Ulster this season, but the seven-cap midfielder is keen to lay all his frustration to rest.
Gearing up for his first Ireland Test on home soil, Cave admitted he was surprised to be drafted back into the squad.
"I've been around the game a while now and sure, it's a fickle world, professional sports is the most fickle thing," said Cave.
"If ever I needed a reminder of that it's been the last couple of weeks.
"It was only two or three weeks ago I was on the phone to Joe, talking about how I wasn't going to be involved in the camp week.
"Then I got a phone call from him on Sunday saying come on in to camp and I'm thrown in to play there.
"I'm delighted for it; it's a bit more unorthodox than normal but I'm ready to play, it's not a problem.
"I've never been capped in Ireland before, and growing up since I was knee-high watching games at Lansdowne Road, this is a big day for me and my family.
"Hopefully I can go well and put all the issues of the past to rest.
"I just try to play as well as I can when I get the opportunity to play.
"I would've liked to have played more for Ulster this year, but there's been a couple of injuries and a couple of bad strokes of luck.
"All that's forgotten about now: I'm picked to play for Ireland this weekend and hopefully I'll get a good run-out and give it my all and afterwards I won't be sitting with any regrets."