12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
ON THE PLAYERS SELECTED:
"These guys have to be on the cusp of playing for Ireland regularly, and some of them have played already and some haven't. It's a way of looking toward 2011. It doesn't mean they won't be involved in this year's World Cup but what you'd hope is that, in two years' time, all these guys would be regularly in the Irish team."
ON HOW THE GROUP WILL WORK:
"One of the key factors is to keep playing at the top level, so their interface with the national team will be like, say, the extra players will come into the squad on a Sunday and leave on a Tuesday.
"In fact most of the work will go on with their provinces anyway, but what we're doing is giving them exposure to training with the top players. Some of them are doing that already and this won't impinge on them playing for their provinces.
"In fact what we're doing is we're helping the provincial coach. For example, where we have the resources such as top coaches like Niall O'Donovan, Graham Steadman, Brian McLaughlin and Mark Tainton, we're saying we're going to resource these guys with these coaches so they're going to help you help them.
"The ultimate outcome is that these guys become much better very quickly."
ON THE COACHING INVOLVED:
"We hope to increase the players' work and fast track their progress. It provides these players with a great opportunity, and they will be monitored very closely, with one-to-one coaching."
ON THE PLAYERS' AVAILABILITY FOR THEIR PROVINCES:
"What we are doing is giving these players exposure to training at that level with the top players like the Brian O'Driscolls, the Gordon D'Arcys and Paul O'Connells.
"Some of them are doing it anyway before internationals. This is just formalising it a bit more. It certainly will not impinge on them playing for their provinces. That would be a retrograde step."
ON THE LACK OF A HOOKER, OUT-HALF OR SCRUM HALF IN THE INITIAL HPSG:
"That tells us that, at the moment, we haven't identified anybody to come through. We've got to look at that but there is the danger of saying: 'well, we're going to need a prop so lets find a prop.' That's a waste of energy and time.
"The bottom line is: 'is the player selected potentially an international player?'
Even though we might need a prop or a second row, there is no point in bringing someone in who is never going to play for Ireland just to fill a gap."
EDDIE WIGGLESWORTH -
ON THE UNION'S HIGH PERFORMANCE UNIT:
"The High Performance Unit has undertaken quite a review process during its time. The concept of this Select Group is not a template copied from anywhere else in the rugby world - it is a particularly Irish initiative.
"I'm not conscious of what others are doing, although I'm sure the New Zealanders have probably something similar to what we're doing here, but I think this is quite unique inasmuch as first of all it hasn't been done before in Ireland.
"We used to bring guys in and then rotate because you didn't want to give guys the wrong message about succession. What we're actually saying here is that you guys are being identified and we will give you all the supports that are necessary."
ON BUILDING TOWARDS THE NEXT WORLD CUP:
"The four-year cycle of the Rugby World Cup tends to push people down the system and there are gaps and age profiles that need to be considered.
"In that sense, it was very important that we have a strategy in place."