Keith Earls says he's relishing the opportunity to link up with the "brilliant" Bundee Aki and praised the impact Ireland's fresh faces have had on the squad ahead of this Saturday's Autumn International against South Africa.

An uncapped back-line quartet of Aki, Adam Byrne, Chris Farrell and Darren Sweetnam are all in the squad for the visit of the Springboks this weekend.

With the departing Simon Zebo left out, as well as the likes of Sean Cronin, Jordi Murphy and Luke Marshall, there's the chance for a new name to make the most of a massive opportunity at the Aviva Stadium.

Versatile back Earls welcomed the new-look competition, and talked up the impact of Connacht powerhouse Aki.

"He's come in in flying form," Earls told RTÉ Sport.

"He's been brilliant since he's come over to Ireland with Connacht.

"He's a great player; you get 100% off him every time. He's physical, he's quick and he can ball-play as well. Hopefully we get a chance in the future to link up.

"It's very exciting," he added of the other new men in camp.

"They bring their own talents and their own unique personalities. It's brilliant. The main thing is we're all excited to get back into the Aviva.

"We haven't been in there in a couple of months and especially to get one of the big teams there as well... The lads are buzzing."

"Joe would kill me if I looked past Saturday!" 

It's 14 months since Ireland's famous defeat of the Boks on their own patch Newlands.

A lot of water has since passed under the bridge - South Afrcia came within a point of beating the All Blacks in their final game of this year's Rugby Championship last month - and Earls expects a different animal to roll into Dublin. 

"With South Africa, a lot has changed since 2016. There's a lot of new faces in there now, especially in the back line.

"They're flying. It's going to be a massive challenge.

"Before, you'd look at a South Africa team and say they're all just crash-ball, crash-ball, physically. Now they're trying to out-smart you as well as kicking and running hard.

"It would be nice to get the three wins, but we're not going to look past Saturday. Joe would kill me if I looked past Saturday!" 

Meanwhile Adam Byrne, Dan Leavy, Dave Kearney, Andrew Porter, Chris Farrell, Ian Keatley and Munster’s Darren Sweetnam have re-joined the Ireland squad after being released for provincial duties at the weekend.

Kieran Treadwell who played with Ulster in Port Elizabeth on Saturday is due back in camp on Wednesday after his flight was delayed leaving South Africa.

Ireland v South Africa (5.30pm kick-off), live on RTÉ 2 and the RTÉ Player from 4.30pm & on RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday Sport, with a live blog on RTÉ Online from 4.30pm.