James Ryan believes Ryan Baird's emergence at international level has given an already well-stocked Irish second row another timely boost.
Leinster lock Baird made his debut against Italy in the last round of the Guinness Six Nations, adding competition for Ryan, Iain Henderson, Tadhg Beirne among the standout options.
And the way he has slotted into the Ireland team environment at just 21 has impressed Ryan, who made his international debut at a similar age in 2017.
"He fits in seamlessly and he looks so powerful whenever he carries the ball," said Ryan as a trip to face Scotland in Murrayfield on Sunday looms.
"He's just unbelievably athletic, so quick, powerful and very talented, so it's brilliant to have him on board and I think second row is an area where there's really a lot of depth now in the team.
"Obviously, Hendy (Henderson), Ryan, Tadhg Beirne can play there, Quinn Roux, Ultan Dillane, who's had a great season as well. So there's a number of guys there now which is great."
While Baird's emergence has bolstered the Irish second row, Caelan Doris' injury absence in the back row has been felt by his Leinster and Ireland colleague.
"He's been a big miss. It's been a pity that his championship was cut short," said Ryan.
"We've been in touch with him and he's keeping well. So we're all very excited to welcome him back now whenever he's right."
The Irish back row, like the second row, has impressive depth but it's the Scottish back three that Ryan is wary of from a defensive point of view.
"I think they're a very dangerous team. You look at their back three - (Duhan) Van der Merwe, Darcy Graham and Stuart Hogg - in terms of attacking threats, they're probably as dangerous a back three as you'll come across in the tournament," he said.
"So I think our defence will be massive and the connections in our defence will be massive, our connections in our kick-chase.
"That talent is matched up front as well. They're a pretty aggressive and abrasive pack, so it's a big one for us."
Follow Scotland v Ireland (kick-off 3pm, Sunday) via our live blog on RTE.ie and the RTÉ News app or listen live on RTÉ Radio 1's Sunday Sport. Highlights on Against the Head on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player, 8pm Monday.