Saturday 24 June 2017

Head coach upbeat overdaunting Kiwi challenge

Hugh Farrelly

DECLAN KIDNEY believes Ireland can overcome their injury woes and achieve a first victory over New Zealand when the two sides clash in New Plymouth on Saturday week.

Ireland have played the All Blacks 22 times since 1905, losing 21 times and drawing 10-10 in 1973 at Lansdowne Road. Kidney steered Ireland to their first Grand Slam in 61 years in 2009 but after a disappointing Six Nations this year and robbed of front-line players such as Paul O'Connell, Stephen Ferris, Denis Leamy and Luke Fitzgerald, his side are given little chance against the Kiwis next week.

However, the Ireland coach is maintaining a positive outlook ahead of a daunting summer tour that includes a second Test against Australia in Brisbane as well as a clash with the New Zealand Maoris in Rotorua.

"Ireland haven't beaten New Zealand but we're going to beat them some time, so this is our opportunity to have a go at it," said Kidney. "We'll go down and do what every Irish team has done in the past. We won't be there just to make up the numbers.

"Professionalism has levelled things off. We have a few new faces but in this game if you wait around for everything to be right, life will slip you by. You never know when things are going to pop right.

"The year before last who was to know the Grand Slam was coming home? These things happen and you prepare for them. Is their trepidation? There always is but if you don't have it you shouldn't be with the group. It's part and parcel of it."

Meanwhile, Rhys Ruddock will captain the Ireland U-20 team to play France in the opening game of the IRB Junior World Championship in Argentina on Saturday.

Coach Allen Clarke has named the same starting XV that lined out against Scotland when they sealed the Six Nations U-20 Championship with a 44-15 win.

Clarke's charges will be anxious to put one over on France having recorded victories over Italy, Wales, England and Scotland already this season.

Irish Independent

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