Ireland coach, Declan Kidney admitted there had been some tough calls to make in his first team announcement for the start of the Six Nations on Saturday in Cardiff.
The Irish travel to the Millennium Stadium to tackle defending Grand Slam champions, Wales in the opener to this year’s championship.
In making his first selection on Tuesday, there were no major surprises by the usually conservative Kidney.
He had been without several players for last November’s autumn Test series and he is without different players for the start of the Six Nations.
Ulster hooker Rory Best and Leinster backs, Brian O’Driscoll and Rob Kearney, all come straight into the side along with Sean O’Brien.
That had been expected although the surprise was that O’Brien was preferred at openside and not blindside, with Peter O’Mahony handed the number six shirt.
It was inevitable O’Brien was going to be named in the starting XV if he was fit and the player to lose out was Ulster stand-in captain, Chris Henry.
It proved the only major talking point post team announcement not just among the media but also fans across Ireland.
There is huge competitiveness in the squad and when asked if Henry, who was named on the bench, had been unlucky to lose out Kidney replied: “Absolutely.”
He went on: “He (Chris) has been playing well and it is just a case of coming up with the best combination to start the game.
“Chris is in the squad as well, but definitely very unlucky to lose out - as are a number of other players.
Henry was outstanding during the autumn Test series, particularly in the 46-24 win over Argentina, a win which ensured Ireland got top eight seeding in the drawn for the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
There had been speculation during the week that Peter O’Mahony was set to get the start and so it proved.
The young Munster player yesterday signed a new deal with the Irish Rugby Football Union keeping him in Ireland until 2015 at least.
In terms of the difficulty in making the backrow selection call Kidney admitted there had been great discussion.
“It was a bit of a call and it took a long time. We felt Peter (O’Mahony) Jamie Heaslip and Sean (O’Brien) would be good for us.
“Chris’ performances did make it a topic of conversation,” admitted Kidney.
It will be a big disappointment to Henry, but given an opportunity in Wales this weekend, the chance will not be one not taken by Henry who will have a point to prove.
R Kearney (Leinster); C Gilroy (Ulster), B O’Driscoll (Leinster), G D’Arcy (Leinster), S Zebo (Munster); J Sexton (Leinster), C Murray (Munster); C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), M Ross (Leinster), M McCarthy (Connacht), D Ryan (Munster), P O’Mahony (Munster), S O’Brien (Leinster), J Heaslip (Leinster, capt).
Replacements: S Cronin (Leinster), D Kilcoyne (Munster), D Fitzpatrick (Ulster), D O’Callaghan (Munster), C Henry (Ulster), E Reddan (Leinster), R O’Gara (Munster), K Earls (Munster).