Ireland's world cup player management scheme
What is it?
A time management programme designed to protect Ireland's top players in order to maximise performance at the World Cup.
Who does it affect?
The extended Ireland squad of 30-plus players, with particular focus on the frontline players who will feature heavily in the November internationals and Six Nations.
How many games?
Between 26 and 32 matches over the season. With nine inter-national fixtures, that could mean some players being available for just 17 games for their provinces.
Is it the same for every player?
No. Different factors such as age and fitness are taken into account and, while players could be available for selection for their provinces, their on-pitch time may also be controlled.
Do the provinces have a say?
Yes, in accordance with agreed rest periods in different phases of the season, they can decide which matches to apply it to.
What do the Ireland management say?
"The programme is very similar to last year, making sure the players who are playing the most football, which is the international players, have rest periods.
"The player management covers the top 30-odd players and the main focus is on the guys who will play a lot of minutes in November, depending on form etc.
"There are agreed rest periods, which will be giving a player a match off in a certain phase, depending on the player, and it's up to the provinces to decide what match that is.
"There are two Magners League games on in November and four more during the Six Nations and the international players will not be available for them.
"Assuming a number of the provinces are in the ERC or Magners play-offs, a number of the players won't be finishing until towards the end of May.
"There will be a truncated pre-season before the World Cup because, if they are finishing at the end of May, they have three or four weeks' holidays and the pre-season only starts at the end of June, with a warm-up match on August 6. That's only a five or six-week pre-season, so you want the players in good shape at the end of this season." -- Ireland manager Paul McNaughton