Ronan O'Gara: Axed Andrew Trimble needs to be ready – he is the next in line for Joe Schmidt
Ronan O'Gara believes Andrew Trimble's lack of rugby ultimately cost the Ulster back a place in Joe Schmidt's World Cup squad, but has not ruled out his involvement in the tournament.
Schmidt has left 2014 Player of the Year out of his 31-man Ireland squad, opting to take his Ulster colleague Darren Cave instead.
Trimble, Felix Jones and Fergus McFadden are among those to be disappointed as the coach hands Keith Earls, Luke Fitzgerald, Dave Kearney and Tommy Bowe an opportunity on the wing, while Cave covers Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne in the centre.
Speaking on 2FM's Game On, O'Gara believes his lack of minutes on the pitch cost the versatile Ulster back.
"I know him quite well and he is an extremely positive and stable individual," he said.
"It's very easy for him to compartmentalise the decision. He hasn't played that much rugby, but the likelihood is that he is next in. Hopefully from his point of view he will see action. He's just got to make sure now that the next three or four weeks is an opportunity for himself to really hit the ground running whether he plays for Ulster, whether he works on his own personal development."
The former Munster out-half also believes that there is still a chance that he may well appear in the tournament which begins in less than three weeks.
"He's a guy who is a massive addition to a camp. I wouldn't think the door is closed. The door is closed because of a lack of time on the pitch, not ability."
Cave meanwhile has been rewarded after years on the international fringes and O'Gara credits Schmidt for instilling confidence in the Ulster midfielder.
"He has changed his professionalism. Under the previous regime I think he always felt like he was a bag-holder. That has changed under Joe Schmidt.
"He has grown in confidence. Anyone who watches rugby regularly will see that he is a key member for Ulster. When Ulster play well, Cave is central to everything. He has transferred the confidence in an Ulster jersey to an Irish jersey. He's starting to believe in himself.
"He has a knack of beating a defender quite easily and getting over the gainline which is invaluable in rugby these days."
The Irish head coach has admitted he has taken a calculated gamble in bringing only two recognised scrum-halves in Conor Murray and Eoin Reddan, with Ian Madigan to provide cover, but Munster's record points scorer agrees wholeheartedly with the decision.
"I would do the same, it makes absolute sense. I think with the third scrum-half, sometimes he doesn't see game time. He's involved in the squad but it is a very challenging role.
"Murray and Reddan's injury profiles are very good and they are durable and very consistent. The two of them have very good engines. If one gets injured it's obviously not good, but if two of them get injured, the rule is you can call in other players.
"You need two players to get injured for him to play there in a Test match. It's an unlikely turn of events for him to get game time there."