It is late at 28 to be seen as the future of the Irish second row.
Yet, this is the spotlight that has been turned on Munster's Donnacha Ryan following confirmation that he has extended his Munster contract to the end of the 2013/2014 season.
This comes in the heady aftermath of a man-of-the-match performance on his first Six Nations start for Ireland in the 32-14 Scotland at The Aviva Stadium last Saturday.
"It (the spotlight) is something I have wanted for years. That puts pressure on myself. There is something wrong if you didn't want it," he said.
Like Paul O'Connell and Donncha O'Callaghan before him, he has had to bide his time, get in line, and do what he can before his coaches gave him the nod at Munster.
Coach Tony McGahan was convinced by the start of this season. He has been mostly preferred to O'Callaghan and Mick O'Driscoll when all four of their Ireland locks are available.
Ireland's Declan Kidney has had to be convinced. Ryan was only given his head because Paul O'Connell fell foul of injury. It was more down to accident than design.
"I have always worked on the premise that you have to be prepared for every eventuality. It has been coming for a while, alright," said Ryan.
"It goes to show, (with) a bit of hard work and perseverance, a lot of patience and great family support and friends, you can get there eventually.
"Over the years, you are giving out to yourself and, maybe sometimes blaming others, that you are not getting in there. But, you put that pressure on yourself to try and succeed.
"Sometimes I put down my goals. I find that helpful to give small wins."
Four years ago, Ryan travelled to Northampton Saints. He was impressed by the club, by the coach, Jim Mallinder, and Dorian West, the forwards coach.
The Nenagh man "contemplated" change. Former Premiership fly-half Barry Everitt and London Irish's Bob Casey were asked for their advice. He decided to stay in Ireland.
"You are obviously in the business of changing people's perception of you. I had to re-invent myself, go to the back row and show I could play (there), take a stab at doing lineout calling as well.
"You get minimum amount of chances. When you do come on and get a go you must make the most of it or you are left with egg on your face."
There was recent talk of a move to Leinster. That has now been put to rest by Ryan's commitment to their main rivals, Munster.