Former Ireland international Victor Costello has criticised the way in which head coach Declan Kidney deposed Brian O'Driscoll as Ireland captain.
Kidney named Jamie Heaslip as skipper for the forthcoming Six Nations campaign despite O’Driscoll’s recent return to action following a lengthy ankle injury.
Heaslip had lead Ireland during O'Driscoll's absence in the November series but was widely expected to make way for the returning Leinster centre.
However Kidney surprised many by removing O'Driscoll from the captaincy role and, speaking on RTÉ's Sport at 7, Costello questioned the decision, the way it was handled and the motivation behind it.
"I question the timing. I question was there a statement made in terms of, you look at the last 12 years of Irish rugby the way the captaincy was handed over.
"Brian O'Driscoll himself and Keith Wood will tell you that in 2003, when Keith Wood was injured and came back for the World Cup Brian made a statement to say; 'Well actually if you're back and if you're injury free Woody, you're going to be captain.'
"You'd expect the same loyalty this time around if terms of transfer."
Costello also raised the prospect that there may be more than just sporting reasons behind Kidney's move.
"I question the way the rug was pulled from Brian and that would make me think there is some kind of personal issue here.
"I question the way the rug was pulled from Brian and that would make me think there is some kind of personal issue here." - Victor Costello
"Brian has made statements in the past, in his book, about how he has not learned a lot under Declan Kidney. There was a question there (after) the 60-0 defeat to New Zealand. For his own very high standards I suppose in a lot of ways he's vulnerable at the moment with that injury.
"I think timing in everything in rugby and people can talk and Declan Kidney has backed himself and clapped himself on the back and said 'this is a very brave decision I've had to make'.
"Sometimes brave decisions aren't the right decisions."
Costello dismissed the notion that removing the pressure of leading his country could somehow help O'Driscoll in his return to full match fitness and to top form.
"Brian himself spoke of his disappointment (at the decision). Everyone seems to be concerned about Brian and his injury and giving him the time to get back from his injury. The best person to be involved in Brian's rehab is Brian himself," Costello insisted.
However, despite his criticism of the way in which the decision was handled, Costello is confident that Heaslip will prove to be a very capable Ireland captain for some time.
"I'm really excited about Jamie Heaslip, I think he was fantastic in the November series and I get great excitement listening to him. He's going to be a fantastic captain for a very long time," he said.