Andy Farrell has conceded that Ireland may never see an end to the 2020 Six Nations.
The squad has gathered in anticipation of Saturday-week's scheduled resumption against Italy at the Aviva Stadium. A Hallowe'en visit to Paris follows a week later.
But with Ireland teetering on the brink of Level-5 restrictions, and ambiguity at Government level around elite sport's role, the national team's head coach says he's at the mercy of other people's decisions.
"There's bigger things than finishing the Six Nations," Farrell said on Friday, "If that's what the Government feel like that's what's needed for the health and the safety of the country, we'll be more than happy to follow that.
"But obviously we'll be doing everything that we possibly to make sure that we keep our side of things nice and clean and we'll wait for the advice."
Despite a perceived lack of certainty around the national situation, Farrell says his squad have already set about their task with relish.
"They've been brimming to come into camp," he replied, when asked if the COVID-19 stories were a distraction, "We've been in camp now for two days.
"The session that we just finished this morning was a high-level quality, and high-level intensity and that just shows that we want to be in this situation and looking forward to a test match next week against Italy."
Farrell believes Ireland's busy autumn schedule could provide ample salve for a nation bruised by constant bad news.
He told reporters, "Obviously I'd love to play the games. I'd love to get the Six Nations finished and play in the Autumn Nations Cup.
"We've waited a long time for international rugby to come back, and I suppose it's a nice tonic for the whole country to be able to watch the sport at international level - come back on the screens - and we're desperate to put a good show in for the people of Ireland.
"But - as I've said before - there's bigger things than rugby, isn't there, so we'll just be advised and do the right things by the country and what the Government want us to do."
See the whole picture
Farrell said the coaching staff have kept themselves busy on various Zoom and Teams calls over the past seven months between international games.
He hopes to use the upcoming matches as means to further evolve the Irish style of play.
"One of our strengths is sticking to the plan. Also, one of our 'work-ons' would be being adaptable in and around that plan; for our boys to see the whole picture.
"And I'm not just talking about the generals of the team. I'm talking about everyone now to play with a vision. Play with an appetite to see things. Play with an appetite to be able to make good decisions, and to be able to execute on those decisions is something we've started.
"It maybe a long enough old process but it's something that I'm willing to stick to."
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