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Henshaw must take the Payne against Springboks

"If you don't adapt, you die."

It is as simple as that for Ireland coach Joe Schmidt when it comes to counting the cost of injury and the list of internationals that will not be on hand to go toe-to-toe with South Africa next week.

The main area of interest is at thirteen where either Connacht's Robbie Henshaw or Ulster's Jared Payne will enter into the discussion ahead of the 2015 Six Nations and World Cup.

Will Schmidt play safer by going for the experience of Payne? Or, will he invest trust in Henshaw, the man Brian O'Driscoll has earmarked as the one most likely to succeed in time.

"Robbie Henshaw - if he is the guy who he is wearing No13 - he is going to learn things and grow a bit through this game because he is going to make mistakes in this game," said Schmidt.

"If he is the guy who is there, that is inevitable."

While patience can be a virtue, it can also be a killer. Schmidt doesn't have the time or the inclination to wait on those who are not ready.

"We are patient enough, but we are probably not overly patient," he said.

The theory goes that Henshaw is a fast learner and has an edge in physicality on Payne, while the latter has banked the big-game experience from his previous incarnation as a Canterbury Crusader and Auckland Blue.


"For me with Jared, his angles of running, his ability to read the defence and defend successfully has been top notch," stated Schmidt. "His ability to play a little bit of a kicking game from second receiver is another asset with Jared with his full-back skills.

"He's played against a number of these South African players as well and we think that that's a bit of an advantage as well, knowing your opponent, and he can bring that experience to the group."

There is what Schmidt thinks will happen and who can cope with what is coming. And then there is what happens.

"I guess in nine days' time we'll know," he added. "I don't think you ever know until a player has been put in the position."

Who will adapt? Who will die? The answer is just around the corner.