JOE SCHMIDT has admitted he does not envy Declan Kidney's out-half predicament, which he described as a "tough" situation.
The Ireland coach's bold decision to hand Ulster youngster Paddy Jackson the No 10 jersey for Sunday's meeting with Scotland over veteran Ronan O'Gara has been the major talking point this week, with the uncapped pivot lining out alongside another new face in Luke Marshall.
The Leinster coach, whose side face the Scarlets in the RDS this weekend, would not be drawn on whether he believed that his player Ian Madigan should have gotten the nod ahead of Jackson and O'Gara in a three-way fight for the No 10 jersey.
But, having faced a similar situation while coaching Auckland, Schmidt can empathise with the Ireland coach while admitting that there is always an element of risk when promoting a youngster for the first time.
"At some stage you have got to show faith. There are times when you have got to back someone to come in and do a job," Schmidt said.
"I remember when I was coaching Super Rugby, we brought in Tasesa Lavea to play instead of Carlos Spencer who was an institution in Auckland and I think that (with) those sort of things, there is always an element of uncertainty. That was great because we got the result and things panned out, but you just don't know.
"You make those decisions for the best of the team, but you don't know how it will affect things.
"They are tough decisions to make. I don't envy the calls that the national coaches make, I have enough to do on a slightly lower level."
Madigan will not start for Leinster this weekend, even if the 23-year-old is released today. He could come on to the bench, along with Fergus McFadden, if both players are released by the Ireland management.
"Ian hasn't been training with us," Schmidt acknowledged. "He has been running at No 12 in the national camp, with Paddy Jackson and Ronan O'Gara at 10. I am hopeful we will have him back and, if we do, that will give us enough time to put him on the bench.
"He won't start now. He hasn't trained with us all week so we have to show faith in the guys we have."
Meanwhile, Schmidt says Leinster won't be bringing in a southern hemisphere star to replace the departing Jonny Sexton, with any signings now likely to come from elsewhere in Europe.
"Certainly not in the southern hemisphere, no, they're all locked in (to contracts)," he said.