"We get the maximum out of the players that we have here, if you look at France, on the flipside, they get the least out of their resources….the clubs get the most out of them and the clubs don’t care about international rugby."

- Donal Lenihan, Against the Head.

Is it right that Joe Schmidt doesn’t pick Donnacha Ryan, Ian Madigan or Simon Zebo?

The theory is that by favouring contracted players, Ireland can prime their side to be in peak condition for the important games.

The IRFU manage the players’ game-time before the big matches.

This results in a better chance of winning games, leading to more positivity, bigger crowds, gaining the hearts and minds of the future generations.

Down the road that equals the broadening of the player-base and, in time, a more skillful field to pick from, and the cycle continues.

The other side of the argument is similar but starts off on a different supposition.

Picking your best players – no matter if they earn a living in Paris or Bristol and abide by their respective clubs' regimes – will give you a better chance of winning the games. Then we are back to the capturing of hearts and minds.

As the debate continues, assistant coach Simon Easterby must have been delighted that he could report no injury concerns from the 36-man squad assembled at Carton House for Saturday's game against France in Paris.

John Ryan (centreground) training in Carton House on Tuesday afternoon

There are some men receiving treatment – Garry Ringrose, Sean O’Brien, Jamie Heaslip and Rhys Ruddock for example – but Ireland’s injury list is favourable compared to England, Wales and France.

"I think the link between the Union and the provinces over the Christmas period was excellent," said Easterby of the player-welfare system.

"There’s a real quality management of the players’ time and I think that’s credit to the provinces and it allow us to benefit from that come the end of January through a heavy block of rugby for the senior players.

"We’re still missing some real quality but we’d like to think that the management and the process and the system between the Union and the provinces is working."

So far so good. Ireland are on a streak with six wins from six summer and autumn games, plus a Six Nations triumph over England.

As far as the personnel go, Robbie Henshaw says they don’t talk about the players who are not there.

He now belongs to a group of senior players, some of whom probably don’t have much of an international career past the next World Cup.

"We’re still missing some real quality but we’d like to think that the management and the process and the system between the Union and the provinces is working."

Japan 2019 presents a last chance for that cohort to make an impression on a tournament that has yielded nothing but disappointment.

Ireland can get to a World Cup final, they could possibly even win it and the subject of the best way to go about that is something that the senior players should be talking about. 

Ireland will be favourites against France but would they have a better chance with Ryan and Zebo in the squad?

"We don’t get together and talk about that because everyone is really focusing on themselves," says the Leinster centre, who, at 24, will be around for a while. 

"The squad we have now are well capable of doing the job."

Schmidt reckons that between locks Devin Toner, James Ryan, Iain Henderson and Ultan Dillane, and back-three options Jacob Stockdale, Rob Kearney, Andrew Conway, Fergus McFadden and Jordan Larmour, he has more than enough to absorb the loss of Ryan and Zebo.

Some may point to how Johnny Sexton continued to be picked while at Racing 92 but the subject was not as intensely debated back then, with the competition for that position very different than for second row and wing.

The thinking must be that Zebo – unprotected from the rigours of the Top 14  – will not be as good (or as fresh) as what Ireland have in that area.

Schmidt and the IRFU have also always stressed that the policy is not set in stone so should an injury crisis erupt ahead of a big tournament, there’s still a chance for a call-up for the exiles.

As for not picking him while he is here, that’s simple.

Ireland were badly exposed in 2015 when a host of front-line players dropped out ahead of the World Cup quarter-final with Argentina through injury and suspension.

Peter O'Mahony laying prone with an injury against France in the 2015 World Cup pool game

Schmidt wants to build up cap numbers and experience of those likely to be on the team or the replacements bench in Japan.

Jordan Larmour, eight Six Nations caps, or Andrew Conway, 15 caps, sounds an awful lot better than a three-cap summer-tour rookie on the bench against South Africa, Australia or New Zealand in a knock-out game.

"Schmidt and the IRFU have also always stressed that the policy is not set in stone"

Schmidt, incidentally, says that Munster-bound Tadhg Beirne may spend some time in the camp but his Scarlets commitments mean that he isn’t in the initial squad.

However, for the same reason Zebo misses out, the ex-Leinster man should be here, adding Six Nations caps to his notch ahead of 2019.

It's not beyond the bounds of possibility that's he'll get a game.

International rugby is a results-based business so credit should go to Schmidt and the IRFU for seeing a long-term picture.

If there are to be any positives taken from the World Cup in 2015, it must be that Ireland won’t find their way to the promised land of a semi-final without the reserves to compete in a knock-out game against the world's best.

If the price to be paid is going into a Six Nations (or two) without a couple of in-form players then so be it.

Follow our live blog of France v Ireland (4.45pm kick-off) on RTÉ Online and the RTÉ News Now App, or listen to commentary from Michael Corcoran and Donal Lenihan on RTÉ Radio 1's Saturday Sport.