Ireland legend Malcolm O'Kelly "can't understand" Declan Kidney's decision to drop Leinster captain Leo Cullen for Saturday's crunch clash with England.
Second-row Cullen impressed in Ireland's opening victory over Italy and was one of the few players who shone at the Stade de France during the 33-10 defeat to France.
But the return to fitness of Donncha O'Callaghan has seen him go straight into the side alongside Munster team-mate Paul O'Connell, with the unlucky Cullen dropping to the bench.
And 92-cap O'Kelly yesterday admitted that he felt Cullen had done more than enough to keep his place.
"I'm not sure why he's been dropped," he said. "I suppose there is the whole incumbent thing and Donncha's been there for years but I can't understand it really, but there you go.
"I don't know why. Donncha's a strong player, there's no doubt about it, a good hard player. Obviously that's what they're looking for, he's athletic. I don't know what goes on inside the camp, but I feel for Leo."
O'Kelly himself fell foul of Kidney's selection policy last season when he was dropped a year ago yesterday, ahead of the victory over England in the Six Nations.
But he did back the former Munster coach's selection of his St Mary's club-mate Jonathan Sexton ahead of Ronan O'Gara at out-half for the visit to Twickenham.
"I was delighted for Jonny," O'Kelly said. "It was an obvious enough change for Deccy to make. I think Jonny's been playing really well. He was the incumbent, only for the injury, and ROG (O'Gara) came in and got the opportunity to play a couple of games.
"After a big loss like the one against France there's going to be changes -- there has to be changes -- and Ronan makes way for Jonny. He gets the opportunity, but Twickenham's still a daunting place to go."