Joe Schmidt could make about four changes to the Irish starting line for the much-planned Saturday meeting with New Zealand World Champions at Aviva Stadium (starting at 7 pm), although three of them are injuries-related . In this it seems he has to return to the tried and true.
All the evidence is that the team and the substitutions will not be finalized until Thursday before confirmation by Schmidt at noon, but it will be surprising if two of the best under the watch of Schmidt, the 32-year-old twin of Devin Toner and the fit – again Rob Kearney, are not repositioned, with Iain Henderson and Jordan Larmour coming back to the bench.
It would be equally surprising if Garry Ringrose and Dan Leavy did not return to the original composition in place of Will Addison and injured Sean O'Brien.
Leavy, Ringrose and Kearney were all in the initial XV at Twickenham for the Irish Grand Slam crown, with the Toner on the bench. Henderson started in southwest London and the only change from that of the 15th would be Kieran Marmion, who was also 23 on that day, to the injured Conor Murray.
The Toner 6 "# 10" has played more races in five years of the Schmidt-plus at the wheel (55 out of 60) from any other player and its value as Ireland's leading winner both on the lines and on the restart was confirmed by the way the two sides of the Irish game slaughtered last Saturday against Pumas when Henderson called the lines.
In addition, until then, Brodie Retallick had taken a sphere in England, repeating Maro Itoje in Jamie George's performances, and the performance is the Irish game soul, the most common access point to games and the main source of his efforts.
The impact of Leavy as O'Brien's replacement in the second half of last week was a reminder of the form of his six nations and left no argument for the identity of the opening of Ireland.
Luke McGrath also made a good impact on the bench against Pumas, confessing Marmion to score a test from a dominant scrum and accelerate the rhythm. But the replacements should do so, and Marmion should maintain his status as a regular member of the team for the past three years.
Ringrose has always been likely to return to the outside center as soon as he has given it as it adds more balance to the offensive game in Ireland, and the question of who should work with him has been postponed again by Robbie Henshaw's injured hamstring.
So Bundee Aki will be confronted by the native New Zealanders and the All Blacks team who once dreamed it should be an unforgettable and emotional day for the Connacht player and his family.
Like a good goalkeeper who communicates clearly, comes for crosses and dominates his area, Kearney is spreading calmly and not less than the air duel during the course, his presence would reinforce the hand of Ireland.
Kearney is the only player who has launched all 10 Irish matches in the 2009 and 2018 Grand Slam campaigns and has launched all 20 Irish four Irish titles since 2009. It would be a great surprise if Schmidt and his colleague not to restore it.
The bench should have been more enigmatic than it could normally be for Schmidt and his coaching assistants. An improved wobbler this season to add to the dynamic ball that bears, David Kilcoyne knocks on the door in a loose head, and so obviously is Tadhg Beirne.
But Henderson has been an integral part of this team for many of the good days of the last few years and is even more experienced in covering the second series and locking. It has also become a regular part of the training this week, obviously, with Beirne there and on standby.
Schmidt undoubtedly referred to Josh van der Flier's big holdings against All Blacks in both Chicago and Aviva, two Novembers before playing the last hour as replacements for Jordi Murphy and CJ Stander, and that seemed intense. Van der Flier seems to prefer his names on the bench in front of Murphy, Rhys Ruddock and Jack Conan.
Andrew Conway, Will Will Addison and Jordan Larmour can all claim for the 23 shirt, but the latter is not only more on the field but if the course becomes difficult on Saturday, Larmour also has a X factor.
And that would mean that all the Murray and Murphy bars out of 23 at Twickenham last March were behind in the harness, with Luke McGrath and van der Flier (who were both in this campaign) to complete the team.
Possible team in Ireland: Rob Kearney; Keith Earls, Garry Ringrose, Bundee Aki, Jacob Stockdale. Johnny Sexton, Kieran Marmion. Cian Healy, Rory Best, Tadhg Furlong, James Ryan, Devin Toner, Peter O'Mahony, Dan Leavy, CJ Stander.
Substitutions: Sean Cronin, Jack McGrath, Andrew Porter, Iain Henderson, Josh van der Flier, Luke McGrath, Joey Carbery, Jordan Larmour.