Schmidt knows I'm not happy out in cold -- Tuohy
Ulster lock Dan Tuohy has professed his eagerness to force his way into Joe Schmidt's plans - but unlike team-mate Darren Cave, he has told the Irish coach so to his face.
Cave got into a bit of a lather last week when commenting that maybe his "face didn't fit" with Ireland, but Tuohy had already expressed his frustrations privately before telling the world.
"It's been a good season so far for me," acknowledged 28-year-old Tuohy, who has won seven caps for Ireland, most recently in front of Schmidt on the summer tour to North America. "I'm very comfortable with the coaches here, they know me well and what I'm capable off and I'm also comfortable with my surroundings.
"I also have a little bit of extra motivation after the November internationals. I just enjoy playing at Ulster, I like the brand of rugby we are playing and it brings the best out in me. I feel really confident in my ability.
"Of course, I still want to put my hand up and play for Ireland. That will never, ever die. If I have to pick up scraps of caps through the years, so be it. I have spoken to Joe Schmidt and he has been excellent. We were very honest with each other and it was a good way of dealing with things.
"He told me what I needed to do, and I know where I'm at and we are on the same page with that.
"He knows I was disappointed at not being involved in the November Tests, but he wants me to be disappointed. If you are a coach and your players are not disappointed about playing then you have a problem.
"He told me go and play for Ulster and we will be looking at you. That's all I needed to hear."
Rory Best has undergone surgery on the fractured right wrist he sustained during the All Blacks defeat last month and expects to be back for the beginning of Ireland's Six Nations campaign in February.
"Hopefully, I can get back in around eight weeks, although we have to see the exact extent of the damage," he said. "As soon as it happened, I heard a crunch. My hand was hanging limp. I had no control over it, I knew straight away.
"It was disappointing to have to go off so early in the match, but it is not completely horrendous news and I have a realistic target to go for."