A players' pay dispute is threatening to overshadow the build-up to Ireland's second autumn international against the United States tomorrow.

Both the Union and the Irish players' representative Niall Woods, the chief executive of the Irish Rugby Union Players' Association, were due to meet this afternoon in an attempt to iron out their differences, which first came to a head before Ireland's June tour to South Africa.

Eddie O'Sullivan's side currently each receive €1,270 as a standard match fee, together with a win bonus of €3,075.

But these figures have remained the same since the 1998-99 season - and Woods and the players are unhappy at the marked lack of progress, given the IRFU's commitment to renegotiate match fees last summer.

England players currently pocket €10,217 as a match fee, as well as an undisclosed amount towards their image rights, with their French counterparts earning between €6,990 and €8,987 per match, including a €1,846 preparation wage, according to Woods.

A last minute compromise over Ireland touring fees staved off a potential players' strike last June, with each player receiving €3,994 for the two Tests - but Woods is adamant that now is the time for change.

"The players' fees and bonuses have not gone up since 1998 - since when ticket prices have increased by 80%," commented former London Irish winger Woods.

"We're not looking for a huge money, just a reasonable increase. Negotiations started last February with regards to match fees and bonuses.

"The summer tour was a separate issue but when that was resolved, it was decided that the win bonus issue would be discussed after the tour. Little or nothing has happened since.

"I'm not going to comment further at this stage. We have to bear in mind that the players have an international tomorrow and an even bigger one next week. I don't wish this to be blown up," he added.

Irish skipper Brian O'Driscoll, who captains his country for the 17th time against the Americans, has expressed the players' rancour with the Union, commenting that  the matter has been dragging on for far too long.

But IRFU spokesman John Redmond said: "Negotiations are ongoing with a variety of issues up for discussion.

"It is distracting and mischievous to raise these issues on the week of an international.

"There was a mutual agreement between the Union and the IRUPA, as is the industry norm, to conduct their business in private. It is standard practice.

O'Driscoll has meanwhile offered his advice to Ulster winger Tommy Bowe and Munster flanker Denis Leamy ahead of their international debuts on Saturday.

"You have to enjoy it. It's a bit of a clichT to say that your first Test flies by, but it does.

"It's just a matter of enjoying the whole day. Looking at the two guys this year and the form they have been in, I'm sure it will be they'll be the ones showing the way.

"I don't think I've ever played with or against either of them before, but they've clearly showed what exciting prospects they are.

20-year-old Bowe will be joined in the Ireland backline by provincial team-mates Kevin Maggs and David Humphreys - nine points short of the 500-point barrier.

His opposite number Mike Hercus of the Sale Sharks - one of only four Europe-based professionals in the US line-up - is 18 points short of the American points record (286).

Tom Billups' Eagles side will be captained by Cardiff Blues back row Kort Schubert, who admitted:  "I'll tell the guys to match Ireland physically in every respect.

"We have to bring our physicality into this game - the Irish maybe have a bit more flair but we try to play to a simple style, get in the opposition's faces and play off their mistakes.