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Ultan Dillane wants to let good times roll with Ireland

By Jonathan Bradley

Having won a PRO12 title with Connacht only last weekend, Ultan Dillane's focus has quickly switched to making more history - this time with Ireland as Joe Schmidt's men search for a first ever Test victory in South Africa.

Only 22-years-old, the lock made his international bow during the Six Nations but there is little doubt he has the physical attributes to tackle the Springboks when the series starts in Cape Town next Saturday, as evidenced by his bulldozing carry over the top of his now team-mate Dave Kearney during Saturday's Murrayfield final.

With three substitute appearances for Ireland to his name so far, the Paris-born Kerryman has two goals this summer - more minutes and a series victory.

"A bit more game time would be brilliant," he said at the launch of Ireland's new Vodafone sponsorship deal this week.

"We're the first (Irish international) team to play in South Africa in 12 years, so it's a huge challenge ahead of us but we want to win the series. We think we have the team for it so that's the main goal."

Dillane, not unlike another young Ireland star Iain Henderson, exudes an air of being unflappable no matter what the stage but he admits he feels the nerves of the international rugby as much as anyone.

"It might not seem like it but it brings out nerves, of course," said the man whose remarkable year has gone from the All-Ireland League to a tour of South Africa.

"It's an incredible experience, you've just got to channel your nerves as best you can.

"Twickenham was my first cap and I was definitely a bundle of nerves leading up to that game but I remember listening to Nathan White and Johnny Sexton and they were really helpful."

While the summer with Ireland lies ahead, Dillane can be forgiven for looking back one last time to Connacht's most memorable of days.

"We had an unbelievable reception in Galway on Sunday afternoon," he recalled.

"We got an open-top tour bus driving us around town, there was about 20,000 turned up.

"It was really incredible to see and there was a stage set up in the Sportsground to welcome us in, it was phenomenal. That's something I'll remember for the rest of my life, it was brilliant.

"I don't think it's sunk in yet. We're hugely overjoyed. It's been unreal."

A fine word to describe this most promising of talent's season to date.

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