Jamie Heaslip says there are no words to console John Cooney, Mike Haley, and Finlay Bealham – the latest trio to be cut from Ireland's potential Rugby World Cup squad.
The Ulster, Munster and Connacht men join Ultan Dillane and Rory Scannell in being left out of the continually diminishing group that will head to Japan next month.
Heaslip, who was cut from the 2007 World Cup squad, says the latest cull will still leave plenty in the remaining group sweating on their own inclusion.
“Selection has always been a mad one, hasn't it, certainly when it comes to a World Cup squad,” he said, “because you know that bar injury, they're out now at this very early stage.
“And having been on both sides of that now myself, it's not easy, no words of condolence will help the lads, they'll be pissed off regardless.
“The guys in the squad will be breathing a sigh of relief in the meantime, but yeah, it's tough.
“There's a lot of competition in back three, props, scrum-halves...there's a lot of competition there, and there's only going to be more [tough] calls down the line.
“People are going to be saying, 'he's hard done by' or whatever, but I think that's just going to be a constant theme.
“But that's a good thing for us when you think about it. In my head I'd say they've got, what, 25 guys on the plane, leaving six spots up for grabs. But then out of that 25, I'd say there's a bit of squeaky bum time for them as well in terms of getting on that flight.”
Heaslip, speaking in his role as a Guinness brand ambassador, picked out four Munster players as 'winners' from the weekend's game against Italy.
“Watching the game, I think the guys who stood out for me were Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Tadhg Beirne and then Joey [Carbery] was going really well, obviously he was a bit banged up but I think he's in with a good shout of going.
“So if you look at the timeline, the first game is the third week in September, and then also you play Scotland, Japan, Russia and Samoa, you've got four weeks to play and he's not going to play the same No 10 for those, and for all the warm-up games. So there's plenty of time for him.
“They were the main winners and then, I think, everyone else was probably just struggling with the general pace of the first game of the season, which is never pretty in the best cases and then when it's an international, it's hard to hit the ground running.
“But it's hard on guys, because they have to make an impression early doors. That's the toughest thing.”