Easterby defends Cronin call and rejects 2007 comparisons
From the outside looking in, it seems for all the world that Sean Cronin has paid a hefty price for his poor showing in Rome, but the Ireland management are flatly rejecting that notion.
Forwards coach Simon Easterby insists that it is merely a case of further strengthening the depth at hooker as Rob Herring earns a recall at the expense of Cronin.
What this means for the Leinster man's World Cup chances remains to be seen but for now at least, Easterby is adamant that Cronin is still very much a part of their plans for Japan.
"Certainly not, no," Easterby replied when directly asked if this decision would hinder Cronin's chance of making the plane.
"It's to do with building depth and we know a lot about Sean. He has been in camp and the squad a long time and has a lot of caps.
"It's an opportunity to see a bit more of other players. That doesn't exclude him from next week and it certainly doesn't exclude him from us going forward. We need to keep building that depth and knowledge of those players in that position."
Joe Schmidt is likely to be quizzed on his decision to leave Cronin out when he names his team tomorrow.
The word at Ireland's base was that yesterday's session was one of the best that the squad have enjoyed in this Six Nations campaign.
Their challenge now is to bring that on to the pitch for an 80-minute performance against France on Sunday.
"It was one of the best we've had for a good while," said Easterby.
"Some of it is individual micro-chat with players and some of it is group chat, unit chat.
"(Greg) Feeky (scrum coach) has done a lot of good work on driving the scrum and making that something we want to go after and energise the players when they get to that moment. It's no different when we're in that mindset in our attack, in our defence.
"When we haven't got the ball, we want to go after a team and that's part of our role: to make sure the players are in the right place, have got the knowledge and can then deliver with intensity and intent.
"Certainly, on today's showing, if you're referring to what we've done since the Italy game, the Belfast camp was really good and we eradicated a few things we needed to improve on.
"This week we've hit the ground running, we've got fresh bodies and so far it's been really energised."
Having been part of the 2007 squad, Easterby is well placed to comment on the recent comparisons with that failed World Cup and the 65-times capped flanker dismissed that talk.
"I guess the difference is we went to that World Cup sort of feeling like we potentially should have won the championship on points difference.
"I think it is different. I think we're in a different place as a team.
"I think we failed in that World Cup for lots of different reasons and I think the World Cup in 2011 would have redressed a lot of those issues from 2007, it's 12 years ago so I don't think you can compare too much of it."