Andy Farrell has hailed the impact of Mack Hansen in the Irish squad.
The Australian-born Connacht winger is set to make his debut against Wales in the Six Nations on Saturday.
Hansen only joined the westerners last year but has excelled under Andy Friend.
He's the URC's top try-scorer with six so far this season, while he also tops the chart for defenders beaten and metres gained.
Huge congratulations to Mack Hansen who 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝗿𝘁𝘀 for Ireland in their @SixNationsRugby opener with Wales on Saturday!
What an occasion to make your @IrishRugby debut 💚
Bundee Aki also starts with Finlay Bealham among the replacements 👊 pic.twitter.com/plPA8VW7lf
— Connacht Rugby (@connachtrugby) February 3, 2022
“He’s [Hansen] a smart rugby player, he makes things happen,” Farrell said following the team announcement.
“He knows how to get himself involved in the game. He’s got great feel, a good skillset across the board.
“It’s tough when you first come into international camps but the ones who do it best hit the ground running and end up getting to a good few caps.
“They’re the guys that are able to be told once, maybe twice, and pick things up straight away and Mack certainly did that.”
Farrell also addressed the non-inclusion of Robbie Henshaw in the matchday 23.
Bundee Aki partners Garry Ringrose in the centre, while Ulster's James Hume provides cover on the bench.
“Robbie had a little bit of a niggle on an adductor towards the end of last week, a good few days of rehab has got him back up to speed again,” he explained.
“He missed a couple of sessions there and that allowed the other three guys to get through their work.
“Robbie’s fine. The rehab has done him good, so Bundee and Ringer get to start.”
And Farrell has also tipped Iain Henderson to come into contention for Ireland's second game against France on Saturday week.
The Ulster lock is short of match fitness having spent time out with an ankle injury.
"He [Henderson] is back training fully. We are topping him up every day.
"He is going great guns and he is certainly going to be fit for the start of next week."
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