Leinster were dealt a significant blow to their Champions Cup and Pro12 hopes this week with the news that Rob Kearney and Jamie Heaslip had both undergone surgeries to mend injuries sustained during the Six Nations. In the case of the latter, not only was it confirmation that Leinster's back row is to be severely depleted over the coming weeks, it also confirmed that Heaslip was, in fact, injured.
The circumstances surrounding Heaslip's late withdrawal from the Irish team to face England in the Six Nations, and the subsequent performance of Peter O'Mahony, cut ice among journalists and fans alike, with some querying whether there was, in fact, an injury to Heaslip. Ammunition for such a stance was provided by the discord between the IRFU's message pre-game - that Heaslip had rolled his ankle - and Schmidt's post-game words, when he stated that Heaslip pulled out with a hamstring injury.
The most vocal of the sceptics was Sunday Independent journalist Paul Kimmage, who spoke about the issue on The Last Word with Matt Cooper last Monday:
I'm looking at the timeline because this is what is really interesting about it. On Monday, O'Mahony is put forward as the senior player for Ireland's first press briefing of the week. On Thursday, Joe Schmidt names the flanker on the bench, retaining his back row of Stander, O'Brien and Heaslip.
On Saturday, O'Mahony features on the cover of the match programme and is the lead interview inside. And then the injury itself. Who told him he rolled his ankle? Because when you roll your ankle, you roll your ankle - you definitely don't have a sore back. Where did that story come from?
I'm not buying it. I think the truth will come out eventually. I'm not buying it anyway.
Ever since Heaslip's injury has been confirmed, Kimmage has received plenty of tweets pointing out the fact. Kimmage returned to the same show this evening, alongside stand-in host Gavan Reilly, who asked Kimmage to respond:
As all the best politicians would say, Gavan: I'm glad you asked me that. [Laughs]
I have in possession here a copy of Thursday's Times, and a story written by Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh, and the headline ran "Schmidt Planned To Drop Heaslip For O'Mahony".
Now, in all things sport and in all judgements that we make about these things, there's a certain amount of information involved. And if you read this piece by Ciarán Ó Raghallaigh, who had been with the team all week, there was every indication that Schmidt planned to drop Heaslip.
Now based on that information, and based on the fact that there wasn't the usual leak of the team as there always is, I think it was safe, if you were in the stadium that day, it was safe to assume that it might have happened. And that was the assumption I made It might have happened, there were grounds to believe that it might have happened, and as it turns out...okay, I was wrong!