Although O Sullivan talked about picking his winter international squad on form, this was in fact not the case because O Driscoll had been the outstanding Irish lock since the start of the season. Indeed Shaun Payne has been the outstanding 15 for some time now so really form counted for not a lot when the Irish squad was decided.
In Payne s case it would be understandable to look at his date of birth as a reason to ignore except for that extraordinary statement made by O Sullivan as quoted in The Irish Times on the Monday after the Black debacle.
One brave reporter - and it does require a degree of courage to confront the Irish coach - asked how the skill levels of the All Blacks might be breached, and O Sullivan responded, In the short term it s going to be very hard. In the long term it s not my problem.
In the short term, Ireland faced Australia . When the experienced Malcolm O Kelly was forced to withdraw the inexperience of Matt McCullough shone through while it would be hard for Munster people to believe that Payne would have fired that possible scoring pass over Tommy Bowe s head into touch. Nor would Chris Latham have skipped around Payne as easily he did Geordan Murphy.
Not that Murphy was all to blame. When the erroneous decision to replace Ronan O Gara with David Humphreys was made one can just imagine the ghost of a smile creasing Alan Gaffney s face. Bet your bottom dollar - Australian that is - that once the Ulsterman appeared on the touchline to warm up, the word came down from Gaffney, sitting below the President s box, for Latham to run hard and straight at the out-half channel.
On Saturday, the Best brothers may join Marcus Horan from the start with John Hayes entitled to a well deserved rest. There are bigger more important matches ahead for the Bruff man and he doesn t need another winter international. McCullough to partner Donncha O Callaghan probably, although it should be an all-Munster pairing .
Denis Leamy should remain in the back-row. Hard to know what EO S will do at half-back. It probably would now seem like a good idea had Kieran Campbell or some other worthy been given a decent degree of game time on the Japan junket. Andrew Trimble and Tommy Bowe should be joined by Robert Kearney who has to be included from the start and at full-back.
And in such a young line-up the need for a strong leader ? Well two who fit the bill are missing through injury and the obvious other Anthony Foley is, in the words of the coach, missing through selection .