Kieran Treadwell, 21, 'still in shock' after making Ireland debut against Japan
Ulster lock Kieran Treadwell was in dreamland after making his Test debut for Ireland against Japan on Saturday.
The 21-year-old replaced stalwart Devin Toner on the hour mark during the 50-22 demolition of the Brave Blossoms at Ecopa Stadium in Shizuoka.
Even with Munster lock Donnacha Ryan moving to Racing 92 next season, Ireland are well stocked with quality locks with Toner, Iain Henderson, Ultan Dillane and Quinn Roux all in the mix.
Treadwell, however, laid down an early marker with his display against Japan.
"It was an enjoyable experience," said Treadwell, who grew up in Sutton, but qualifies for Ireland through his mother, who hails from Wexford.
"I can't really put it into words now. I'm still in a little bit of a shock but I was just honoured and privileged to get out there and put the shirt on. Obviously it was my first cap and I've got a lot of learning to do but it was a great experience to be out there with some of my heroes.
"To get out there and play and for the team to get the win was great."
Treadwell, who joined Ulster from Harlequins last summer having represented England at under-20 level, has been on Joe Schmidt's radar for a while and was drafted into a Christmas training camp at Ireland's base in Carton House.
Having watched his club team-mate Jacob Stockdale make a try-scoring debut in Ireland's 55-19 triumph against the United States in New Jersey the previous weekend, Treadwell followed in his footsteps with 20 minutes of graft from the bench on Saturday.
The 108kg forward became the seventh new cap on Ireland's summer tour after Schmidt blooded Stockdale, Rory Scannell, Rory O'Loughlin, Dave Heffernan, Andrew Porter and James Ryan over the past fortnight.
The guidance of Schmidt, forwards coach Simon Easterby and scrum specialist Greg Feek looks to have made a big impact.
"I had a camp before Christmas which was good, getting in there and getting a feel for the whole thing," Treadwell said.
"Then I found out I was coming here. Coming over with some of the Ulster boys was quite good. Jacob (Stockdale) and myself are the same age and we know each other quite well.
"Then it is such a great team to be integrated into. They're really, really friendly and I felt like I was part of the team straight away.
"Joe, Simon and Feeky (Greg Feek) have been a great help. Everyone is there to lend a hand. Anything you want, you just got to one of them and they'll answer any questions that you've got.
"It's just been a great experience. I'm finding it hard to put it into words."
Following emphatic wins over the Eagles and Japan in recent weeks, Ireland conclude their summer tour with a rematch against Jamie Joseph's side at Ajinomoto Stadium in Tokyo next Saturday.
With a 20-minute cameo under his belt, Treadwell will be aiming to finish this month on a high as the youthful Ireland squad continue to build towards the 2019 World Cup.
"You only ever get a first cap once so I just went out there and played as hard as I could for as long as I could," he added.
"As I said before, this is a learning experience for me. I just want to pick up everything like a sponge and just take everything I can - just try to make myself a better player and aim to get into the team next week."