James Ryan says he's wearing the role of Ireland captain more easily these days.
The 25-year old will lead his country into Sunday's final autumn international at the Aviva against Argentina. Regular skipper Jonathan Sexton is missing after suffering a twisted knee and ankle in last week's victory over the All Blacks.
The meeting with the Pumas comes a year to the day since Ryan first captained Ireland - an 18-7 defeat to England at Twickenham in the Autumn Nations Cup.
"I've enjoyed it," the hulking lock told the media on Wednesday, "When I initially did it, it did feel like a bit of a weight on my shoulders in some ways.
"When I started, it was hard not to feel a bit like that.
"I don't feel that same way anymore. I feel like it doesn't actually change a lot for me through the week.
"We've got a number of guys there that are very good in a leadership capacity as well.
"The advice Faz [Andy Farrell] gave me when I first captained [the side] was to be myself, and to focus on my own game. That was probably the best piece of advice I could have gotten."
'I want to congratulate Ciara Griffin on everything she has done' | 🏉
James Ryan had a simple but important message of support for Ireland ahead of their clash with Japan | ☘️ v 🇯🇵@VodafoneIreland | #TeamOfUs | #NothingLikeIt
Full video ➡️ https://t.co/PIVqqhaehK pic.twitter.com/pSpjdIJT9P
— Off The Ball (@offtheball) November 17, 2021
Ryan took over the captaincy last week when Sexton was forced off through injury against New Zealand, even i the optics suggested Peter O'Mahony was leading the team.
Asked how he differs from Sexton in his captaincy, Ryan said, "Look, I'm not too interested in giving lads [a] bollocking, or any of that stuff. I just want to get my own performance right - I think that's the best way for me to lead anyway.
"There's plenty of guys who can drive all those things alongside me."
Ryan's Leinster teammate Jamison Gibson-Park became the latest confirmed withdrawal after the 29-20 win over the All Blacks. A thigh injury means the scrum-half's place in the squad is taken by Luke McGrath.
And while losing players is always a blow - especially given the form of Gibson-Park - the stand-in skipper believes Ireland have the strength-in-depth to survive the inevitable changes to the side.
"That's been kind of the focus from the start - from when we came in. Faz has been big on it being a group effort - 30-40 squad effort," Ryan said.
"I think we're starting to see a little bit of just how good that depth is at the moment. You saw the impact that the bench made against New Zealand - that's probably a reflection of that.
"We're in a good place in that respect at the moment, and competition across the board is really strong, which is great.