Joe Schmidt has revealed how he and his management staff cut their playing squad for the Rugby World Cup to 31 after six hours of deliberation.
A number of big names were edged out off the place for the tournament in what Schmidt described as the 'brutal reality of what we do'.
The Kiwi said that the process of calling the players who had not made the cut had affected him more than the players involved.
"It was probably me that more emotional than the player, they knew the decision when they saw my name on the phone," he said.
"They were resigned to the fact when they answered the call, it was then difficult to have that conversation with them but it's incredibly encouraging to me is how positive they were.. 'I wanna be involved in the future'."
One of the eye-catching aspects of the 31-man squad is that Ian Madigan will be the third-choice scrum-half during the competition.
"It was in the back of our minds, probably not in the forefront. I spoke to Ian about it last season so it's not suddenly something, he did some work on it in the off season," he added
"He has been quietly preparing himself for that potentially to happen.
Joe Schmidt encouraged by attitude of players, watch press conference on Ireland's Rugby World Cup squad in full: https://t.co/1PFiie1OdC
"It probably wasn't what we were going to do but there were a few players we had discussions about potentially covering different positions because we knew we couldn't have total coverage with 31 players."
Isaac Boss and Kieran Marmion remain on injury-cover standby, with Ireland launching their Pool D campaign against Canada in Cardiff on September 19.
Another big call was the selection of Wexford's Tadhg Furlong ahead of Michael Bent after young tighthead made his debut against Wales on Saturday.
"He's been doing some pretty good work at loosehead in training. He's really impressed us," he continued.
"Apart from taking six specialist props... there's not too many ways around that. Michael Bent is probably very unlucky to miss out.
"He acquitted himself really well in the environment. His work ethic is first rate. He was very close.
"In this six hour process, his name was on the sheet a number of times.
"I thought he did really well at the weekend against a player who is very hard to scrum against.
"It was a fairly tough baptism to test rugby."
Schmidt decided to bring Ulster's Darren Cave as centre cover rather than bring another back to cover the back five.
"We feel like we have enough cover. It's a little bit of a manufactured midfield, I don't think Robbie (Henshaw) had played 12 until he came into this environment, Jared had played more full-back than 13," he said.
"I wanted to get one specialist centre who could play 12 or 13 and his positivity and flexibility are real pluses in the environment for us.
"We've had the opportunity to give Keith Earls and Luke Fitzgerald some game time at 13 and amongst those five and Ian Madigan, who can move in there.
"Having Ian cover 9 and 10, to expect him to cover 12 as well is a little more expectation.
Munster flyer Keith Earls suffered a heavy blow to the head in last weekend's 16-10 defeat to Wales in Dublin, and is now following the concussion protocols but will not feature against England.
Cian Healy is finally available but is likely to be rested.
"Cian's cleared to play, he's fit to play," said Schmidt.
"He's been in and out of sessions but not doing the whole session.
"He's acquitted himself well on his first two days, so we thought we'd have a look at how that goes on Thursday.
"And Keith's very good: he is following the return to play protocols.
"He hasn't trained with the team, he won't be involved at the weekend but I'd say he'd be cleared to play by the weekend following the protocols because there are no recurring problems."