Ulster outhalf Paddy Jackson has said it's "all or nothing" in South Africa as he looks to seize a golden opportunity in the green jersey.
Jackson forms a half-back partnership with Conor Murray at Newlands Stadium this Saturday (4pm), filling the No 10 role in the absence of the injured Jonny Sexton.
The 24-year-old said it was dream come true to play in the iconic venue, but revealed he's been riddled with nerves as he gears up for what's certain to be a bruising collision.
“It’s a childhood dream come true," he told RTÉ Sport. "I’m looking forward to it. There’s a few guys getting chances, like myself. On top of getting to play for Ireland that’s another exciting thing for the team.
“I haven’t started a game for Ireland in a while so for me there’ll definitely be nerves and they’ve been building slowly all week. It’s nerves and excitement.
"It’s going to be the hardest game I’ve probably ever played in"
"I’ve just been waiting for this opportunity to get the start and on such a big stage as well. I think I’m very lucky and I’m very grateful I got the selection.
“It’s going to be the hardest game I’ve probably ever played in. From that point of view that can kind of take the nerves away a bit. It’s all or nothing. Against such a good team as the Springboks it’s going to be tough but I’m looking forward to it and giving it everything I have.”
Ireland are sure to face a fired-up Springbok team hungry to impress new coach Allister Coetzee.
With South African-born trio CJ Stander, Richardt Strauss and Quinn Roux part of the travelling party, there's some extra spice to this series. Jackson expects fireworks, but sees plenty in the Irish armoury that can trouble the hosts.
"Everybody’s just looking forward to getting out there. It’s been a long two weeks of waiting for this moment. We’ve got the training done, now we’ve just got to get ready for the challenge.
“I’ve got guys outside me that I know pretty well and I know that if I give them the ball they can do some serious damage. If we can get a bit of territory and bit of go-forward ball we’ll be looking good.
“(The South African-born players) bring serious physicality and the way they’ve slotted into the team environment and our way of things is brilliant. They’re all great craic and great to have around the place. They’ll be excited to go up against some guys they know pretty well."