Schmidt arrival to inspire Ireland
Ireland prop Dave Kilcoyne believes that the chance to impress new coach Joe Schmidt will drive the tourists to success in North America.
The New Zealander will arrive in Houston on Friday ahead of Saturday's Test against the US Eagles having spent time in camp with the squad last week in Kildare. He will take a more hands on role next week in Toronto and Kilcoyne believes his presence will lift the squad. The Munster loosehead's personal goal is to wrest the Ireland No1 jersey from Lion Cian Healy in the Leinster man's absence as he looks to end a remarkable season on a high.
"Look, it is a clean slate for everyone," he said at the team base in Texas.
"Joe coming in is great, if you look at his record for Leinster he has done great and let's hope he can do the same for Irish rugby.
"With a new coach coming in, lads are looking to impress. From what the lads have been telling me, Joe is manic into his work-rate and has huge background information done on all players so I'd say he has huge knowledge of what to expect. It is a big opportunity for people coming through.
"We have two big games coming up with America and Canada. I am putting my best foot forward to make sure I put down a good marker to ensure I can get that No1 jersey going forward. It is a huge test, a huge chance for me and I'm relishing it."
Ireland's 29-man touring squad includes seven new caps and, with 10 senior players touring with the Lions and the likes of Eoin Reddan, Gordon D'Arcy, Keith Earls and Donnacha Ryan not travelling there is a lack of experience, but Kilcoyne sees it as a positive.
"From the Six Nations and November you have a lot of new faces, but that is down to the strength in depth of Irish rugby," he said. "Look, the more competition for places brings out the best in players. There is a lot of competition for places but you have to back yourself in these situations."
The main barrier to impressing this week will be the Texan heat. It was already 26 degrees and 77% humidity in Houston when the players underwent their first full training session in the US.
"Look, the humidity is more of an issue than the heat," Kilcoyne said. "We've air-con in all of the rooms and the hotel and the big thing is to make sure that you're hydrating when training. We're adjusting well so far anyway."