Matt O'Connor may be less than pleased with the IRFU's player welfare system but in a somewhat surprising development, Joe Schmidt has come out to refute the Leinster coaches complaints.
Schmidt, O'Connor's predecessor at Leinster, has resoundingly defended the system which O'Connor has blamed for much of Leinster's trouble this season.
The Leinster coach has regularly bemoaned the fact that he is without his top players in the aftermath of international matches, something which isn't a problem for some of Leinster's Pro 12 rivals. However, Schmidt made his feelings very clear on some of the recent criticisms coming from Leinster, saying that suggestions that their hand is being unduly forced are 'unequivocally not accurate'.
It comes back to how you are managing the players and how well is that working. It's a challenge for provincial coaches to get the best out of their teams all the time when you don't always have the top players available.
Schmidt then went on to the crux of the matter, Leinster's performance this year. He pointed to the fact that under his charge two years ago, and under O'Connor last year, a similar number of players were missing but Leinster managed to uphold their level of performance.
Two years ago [under Schmidt] through the Six Nations period Leinster got 18 out of 20 available points, last year [under O'Connor] they got 19 out of 20 available points, this year they got nine out of 20 available points.
If you look at the teams that were put out through those three years those teams are very similar and have international experience, with guys who have been internationally capped. I think from that perspective the system isn't broken and we're trying to refine it every quarter.
There has been much debate over whether O'Connor should be allowed to finish out his contract with the province and although it seems unlikely that he will be replaced, Schmidt's comments won't do a whole lot to solidify his position.