Joe Schmidt has rejected Shane Horgan's assertion that his selection of Tommy Bowe for the opening Six Nations fixture against Scotland was a "nostalgia call" after recalling the experienced winger to his match-day 23 for tomorrow's clash with Wales.
Bowe (33) won his 68rd cap off the bench at Murrayfield and afterwards ex-Leinster wing Horgan, who won a Heineken Cup with Schmidt in 2011, castigated the decision to include him.
"That looked like a nostalgia call," Horgan said. "He hasn't been playing well, I was very surprised that he was in the 23. Tommy just didn't look as if he was up to the pace of the game at all. He had a negative contribution."
Schmidt initially left Bowe out of his squad for rounds four and five of the Championship, but the two-time Lion was recalled on Sunday when Ulster team-mate Andrew Trimble was ruled out with a hand injury.
Having "trained the house down" according to the head coach, the winger has leap-frogged Craig Gilroy, Tiernan O'Halloran, Jared Payne and Andrew Conway to come into an otherwise unchanged match-day squad.
"Shane hasn't spent any time in our environment, he's never seen Tommy train," said Schmidt.
"I think it's a typically external opinion that is purely opinion-based. We try to base our decision on how a player is performing. I've coached Shane and there's probably been times when people have questioned my selecting him.
"There's always going to be people questioning selection. I feel that we're best placed; there's no way I'd say we get it right every time, because again, there's a human factor in coaching.
"I'm not sure whether, over the last three and a half-four years, how many nostalgic decisions I've made. But I can't really remember many.
"Tommy has trained really well. He's trained the house down.
It is a given at this level that the breakdown will set the tone, but when asked about what is coming at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow night Joe Schmidt was unequivocal about where the battle-lines will be drawn.