I'm delighted. I suppose I'm a bit relieved as well, after not being named in the initial squad four years ago. There was a lot of pressure - everyone said I had a good chance this time. To be sitting round with the family when my name was read out - it was elation - that is probably the best word for it.
Did the disappointment last time change how you looked at this announcement?
People will get sick of me saying it but I just tried to take each game as it came and try to focus on playing well every time I took to the pitch. I didn't focus too much on that one goal, I went through the process of concentrating on the small targets and gave myself the best opportunity to make it. You try to tell yourself that it won't be a big deal of you don't make it this time, but ultimately, waiting for the announcement was very tense and nervous and no matter how much you try to kid yourself, it would probably have felt like the end of the world for a few hours if I didn't make it.
How will this tour compare to Australia in 2013?
It's a completely different beast. When we played Australia four years ago they were in a period of transition - they weren't a particularly settled side and they were getting beaten by a lot of teams - whereas New Zealand are the best team in the world by a bit of a distance.
They are different environments. Australia is obviously a lot bigger and there are so many more sports there. Whereas with New Zealand, any time we've been there with Ireland, it's a lot more hostile. Everyone in the country will know what you're there for and you'll be in a gold fish bowl. It will be very tough but it's a great opportunity to go to one of the biggest rugby playing nations in the world and try to something special.
What is the secret to getting players from four nations to gel?
Everyone knows each other. We've played against each other at club and international level at various stages of our careers. It's a case of trying to ensure we become a team and drive forward and hold nothing back. The little intricacies that we have with Ireland, we need to explore those and tell people about them within the Lions. And you expect the same from the other nations. What worked against New Zealand, what worked in other games. You have to be as open as you can and ultimately you have to have as much craic together before the first game so you're a proper team. There's something a bit old school about it. You just have to get together and strip everything back and try to enjoy yourself and enjoy each other's company and you hope that you'll see that on the pitch.
You must be over the moon to hear that Jared and Hendy will join you on the plane?
With JP, obviously getting that injury and coming back to be selected, it shows how good a player he is. We obviously know how important he is to Ulster and Ireland. To fight back and get into this squad is brilliant.
For Hendy to get picked is great. He does a lot of training with me and catches a lot of balls every week and never complains about it - I've seen first-hand how hard he works. It maybe looked during the Six Nations that his chance had gone but it just shows that if you keep your head down and keep working hard, you can get the rewards. He got that opportunity against England and he showed what a quality player he is and I'm just delighted for him that he's been recognised. There's no doubting how good a player he is and how good a player he's going to be and he's now got one of the biggest stages in the world to show it.
Do you think 11 players in the squad is a fair reflection on where Ireland is at?
I suppose there will be a few people who will be disappointed to miss out. Jamie (Heaslip) and Rob (Kearney) picked up injuries at the wrong time. Cian Healy, Donnacha Ryan, Garry Ringrose all could have went. It's great for Irish rugby to have so many going away and you can actually list some real quality players that have missed out.
From as Irish pint of view I think 11 is very good for us but we still have a lot of quality to go away and tour America and Japan. It will be a great test of our depth and it will be another step forward for us. Guys going on their first Lions tour will learn a lot but the boys going on tour with Ireland will also learn as much.