In 2014, the IRFU placed their trust in David Nucifora when they made him their all-powerful performance director. The next nine months will establish whether their faith was well-placed.
At that time, the union were looking for a figure capable of coming in and breaking down the barriers to success that existed within the game, a person strong enough to take on the vested interests for the good of the national team who could handle player contracts and the long-term strategy of the organisation.
The former Wallaby hooker got the gig and as soon as he crossed the threshold at head office on Lansdowne Road, he became the most important person in the building.
Now, as the union haemorrhages cash as a result of the continued absence of fans from stadiums, it must hope that the man it employs to run its strategy delivers on all fronts. All around him, there are fires to put out.
The men's national team is in the second year of an alarming decline and yesterday he was forced to back the head coach he appointed a year ago.
The women's team is in limbo as they go into a World Cup year, the provinces are participating in a competition that isn't fit for purpose and more than 50 per cent of the country's professional players, including some of the most important - the captains of Leinster, Ireland, Munster and Ulster, among others - are out of contract in June.
That's just the tip of the iceberg.
Nucifora has a huge responsibility on his shoulders.
Everyone on the rugby side of the house reports to him. It is he who signs off on all contracts and hires and fires the head coaches.
He is there to review everybody's performance, but it has always been unclear as to whether he himself is accountable to anybody.
Philip Browne is the organisation's experienced chief executive but he seems to be perfectly comfortable leaving the rugby to Nucifora, while the committees which created his position essentially signed their own death warrants when they did so.
Between 2014 and 2018, Nucifora basked in the success of his old mate Joe Schmidt with whom he worked at the Auckland Blues the previous decade.
Performances were largely good and, when they weren't - like at the 2015 World Cup - he was able to use the results to push through his agenda of spreading the best talent across the provinces. And, while Leinster don't appreciate what CEO Mick Dawson described as "forced migration", the logic behind the strategy seemed sound.
In 2018, Nucifora announced his intention to promote Andy Farrell to the role of head coach when Schmidt stepped down after the World Cup.
Ireland had just completed their greatest year and beaten the All Blacks. What could go wrong?
Two years on, things look very different.
The IRFU's financial position has been significantly weakened by the pandemic and while he'd normally be deep in talks with players, provinces and agents on contracts, the entire process is on hold until after Christmas.
The men's national team tanked at the 2019 World Cup. The review went unpublished once again, meaning Nucifora could cherry-pick his findings and tacitly blame Schmidt for failing to evolve the team's tactics and performance coach Enda McNulty for the players' anxiety.
Certainly, there was no sense that Nucifora felt responsible despite the fact that the team had come up well short of the stated goals written down in the strategic plan he'd launched a year previously.
That document makes for an interesting read now. The men's team are expected to reach the semi-final or better at the 2019 and 2023 World Cups, win two Six Nations titles and be consistently ranked among the top three sides in the world.
Right now, they're hanging on in fifth having produced their worst performance in years to beat 12th-ranked Georgia at home.
The women's team are targeting a World Cup place next year, but the pandemic has thrown further doubt on their path to New Zealand.
Despite the disruption, this year was an improved campaign but they still look way off being able to win the Six Nations they're targeting in the next three years.
Given it pays the bills, the men's team is the chief concern right now.
Judgment on their progress will be reserved until after the Six Nations, but Nucifora expects them to be able to win the trophy.
That falls on Farrell, but Nucifora's role is to create the conditions needed for the head coach to succeed.
The decisions he makes in the next few months will have huge ramifications down the line. More than 50 per cent of players, including some of Farrell's biggest hitters, are out of contract next summer.
Retaining the top talent is top of his agenda, but there is a huge pile of issues to get through in his in-tray as the union works its way out of the Covid-19 crisis.
Despite all of the changes, there are still significant weaknesses in the system and nothing highlights that more than the fact that the 35-year-old Johnny Sexton is riding to the rescue once again this week.
For a number of reasons, this feels like a crucial moment in the recent history of Irish rugby. Never has one man - Nucifora - had so much responsibility for where things go next.