AND THEN THERE were none.
BOD, ROG and POC: they were the three totems of Irish success in the modern era from the 2003 World Cup, through to the Grand Slam in 2009 and beyond.
Yes, they will all return in one form or the other, but their era is now over.
For so long, the pillars were unshakeable.
Ronan O’Gara was the first to be chipped at, because he was faced with a worthy contender for his jersey. The Munster fly-half did and will not let go willingly. His skills are far too great to be easily cast aside.
Brian O’Driscoll was next, his outrageous work-rate finally took its toll. The hope is that, with a fully repaired shoulder, his odometer can be wound back slightly and enjoy his twilight years in green.
Yesterday, we were expecting the news to rule Conor Murray out for a week or so. But we were hit with a shock. Paul O’Connell would also miss Ireland’s remaining two games.
The stand in captain showed absolutely no signs of having damaged his medial ligament as he led his defensive line to the death in the Stade de France. Not only did he look at the absolute peak of his powers, but he spoke forthrightly after the game.
There was no wincing, no making excuses, the pain appeared only to be the anguish of a draw which felt like defeat, which could have been an all-too-rare win.
We thought the absence of O’Driscoll would be hard felt, and it is, but the confusion and tinkering needed now that O’Connell joins him on the injured list is going to be massive.
First off, we have the captaincy issue. Rory Best was alongside O’Connell as a vice captain in New Zealand so he will be the favourite to take over. However, four tests in four weeks is a monumental ask and, with Sean Cronin waiting patiently, hooker is one position where we could have afforded to rest the front-liner against Scotland.
Declan Kidney would be wise to name his line-up for Scotland first and a captain second. It would be horribly unfair on Best to be named captain and then dropped or hauled off after 50 minutes.
Rob Kearney, Stephen Ferris; it’s a list we could ponder over until the cows come home, but no matter who receives the honour, there is an enormous number 5 jersey to be filled.
Scotland pride themselves, with good reason, on their second row. No matter who we select there is a steep learning curve in the shape of Richie Gray and Jim Hamilton ahead. Donncha and Donnacha have been fighting for one number 4 jersey all year, can they play together?
Blood in the water
A new pack leader is required, all three back-rowers are comfortable jumping in the line-out, but calling the shots is another kettle of fish.
One thing is for sure, Ireland will not name the same starting line-up for the fifth time in a row. Scotland will be sensing the fear, smell the blood in the water and they have experienced winning in Croke Park.
The original three totems may be no more. ROG, POC and BOD need replacing. Ireland needs its new leaders now, an acronym enabled name would be a bonus, but is not essential.
Step forth Rob, Fez and J-Sex to assume the mantle.