Johnny Sexton is not guaranteed to resume his captaincy of the national team when Ireland's Six Nations campaign eventually resumes in October.
reland head coach Andy Farrell will announce his decision closer to the resumption of international rugby but the pair had already discussed the fact that the out-half might only lead his country for one campaign.
The fractured season has altered that situation but Farrell's comments about Sexton will put the veteran on alert that he may have a fight on his hands to retain the armband.
Farrell strongly hinted that the Leinster player will continue in his leadership role, however he was also keen to distance himself from an absolutely positive contention that the status quo will remain in place.
Sexton led Ireland to an opening brace of victories last spring before a poor personal display culminated in a deeply disappointing defeat to England in Twickenham, although Ireland could yet win the Six Nations title with two bonus-point wins against Italy and France.
Whether Farrell chooses to select Sexton to lead his country on that unlikely quest remains to be seen.
“I thought he did a super job and he’s going to continue to do a super job, but like all captaincies, and all captains know this, injury prevention is certainly a key factor and form has to come into it,” said Farrell.
“Johnny is more aware than anyone else. That’s his competitive spirit anyway, that’s in him and he’s certainly got some big games coming up before the international season kicks off.”
One of those will pitch Sexton against his former club colleague Ian Madigan at the end of this month, with the latter returning from exile hoping to make a dramatic pitch to resume his stalled international career.
"He’s been a super player for Ireland over the years. We know his versatility and what he brings to the squad as well," Farrell added.
“We hear he’s come back in great form regarding training. I’m sure he’ll be gunning to have a great start to his Ulster career.”
“Warren is a friend of mine and we speak from time to time.
“I’ve obviously enjoyed working with him and he’d be somebody that I’d speak to along the way anyway.
“There’s no point second guessing. I’ve learned that down the years, certainly with Warren and rightly so.”