Ronan O'Gara is unconvinced by England's decision to drop Jonny Wilkinson and doubts his Lions team-mate will be overlooked for long.
England coach Brian Ashton axed Wilkinson following a poor display in Saturday's defeat at Murrayfield and installed Wasps sensation Danny Cipriani in his place.
Cipriani will make his full Test debut in Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash with Ireland before an expectant Twickenham eager to run the rule over England's brightest prospect.
But O'Gara, who struck up a friendship with Wilkinson during two Lions tours, is adamant the 2003 World Cup winner will bounce back.
"I was surprised when Jonny wasn't selected because I’m a massive fan of his and he’s someone I admire hugely," said the Ireland skipper.
"For me he's been at the top of the game and at the top of the outside-half world.
"But I don’t think you’ve seen the end of Jonny Wilkinson by any means."
With the clamour for his promotion to the starting line-up at fly-half answered, it is now up to Cipriani to prove he is the long-term successor to Wilkinson.
O'Gara has played opposite Cipriani twice already this season while on Heineken Cup duty for Munster and those duels left him in admiration of a thrilling talent.
"It’s a huge opportunity for Danny to stake his claim at international level," he said.
"I’ve been very impressed with Danny. The two Heineken Cup games we played against Wasps were completely different styles.
"We played them away on a soccer style pitch which made for a fast match and I thought Danny had an excellent relationship with Riki Flutey – they seemed to play very well off each other.
"At Thomond Park, where there was a soft pitch and the conditions were difficult, it was hard to establish a platform so he didn’t get so much of an opportunity to shine.
"But he’s hugely exciting, a wonderful talent and has to be watched. He has electric pace."
Cipriani's promotion is a bold decision for Ashton as despite only third place being up for grabs at Twickenham, the England coach is facing questions over his future.
Ireland have endured an equally poor RBS 6 Nations and the position of boss Eddie O'Sullivan is also under intense scrutiny amid speculation that defeat will result in his dismissal.
But O'Gara, who is poised to win his 82nd cap, is determined to lift the gloom shrouding Irish rugby.
"We’re aware there’s a fair bit of negativity around at the moment," he said.
"But Eddie and the coaching staff have been incredible in their preparation for the week.
"We’re a tight group inside the camp and we’re extremely focused on the game tomorrow.
"We view it was a huge opportunity to bring a smile and a bit of pride back into Irish rugby.
"All the boys want to put in a performance for themselves and the management team."