Paul McNaughton admits the Ireland management are not surprised by Brian O'Driscoll's remarkable turnaround in form during this year's RBS 6 Nations.
Hailed in many quarters after last weekend's gritty 14-13 victory over England, O'Driscoll turned in an inspired performance and silenced critics who believed his best days were behind him.
After failing to light up the season so far with Leinster and during Ireland's November internationals, O'Driscoll's future as national team captain had been brought into sharp focus
However national team manager McNaughton hailed O'Driscoll's leadership abilities after the outside centre's three impressive games to date in the Six Nations.
"I think what we've seen from Brian to date (in the Championship) are clips of things that we've seen over the last five or six years," said McNaughton. "He's had to adapt as he's got older.
"We weren't surprised (by his form) - that's ultimately why it was decided not to change the captaincy because of his leadership, because of his ability defensively and because of his ability to change a game."
He added: "The Irish management decided that he should be captain for a start. And therefore that gave a confidence in the management view on his form and on his leadership.
"He has had a fantastic Championship so far, and if you said was he going to play like that and score three tries in three matches you might have said, 'let's hope so'.
"I think we are all pleasantly happy that he is playing in the form he is at the moment - in particular in the big game against England."
England's preparations for the Autumn International series were potentially dealt a further blow as Maro Itoje was forced to undergo an x-ray after Saracens' European victory over Scarlets on Saturday night.