Sunday 21 December 2014

Ireland legend Paul O'Connell backs Declan Kidney to lead new wave into the future

Published 07/02/2013 | 04:00

5 February 2012; Paul O'Connell, Ireland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v Wales, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
5 February 2012; Paul O'Connell, Ireland. RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship, Ireland v Wales, Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Paul O'Connell believes that Ireland head coach Declan Kidney should be allowed to continue beyond his current contract, which expires this summer.

Ireland tackle England on Sunday at Lansdowne Road with many assessing the crunch clash as a Six Nations title play-off.

"It's unhealthy to start talking about Grand Slams," said O'Connell, currently recuperating from back surgery which has ruled him out of the entire championship, but who has declared his intention to play at the next World Cup.

"We've a really good side at the moment. Something in the autumn has clicked. The players seem to be focusing on Ireland and themselves a lot, making sure they know their own roles inside out.

"When we do that, and match it with efficiency, doing our jobs really well, with good high tempo passionate rugby, we're a really good side. But it takes a bit of monitoring to it week by week.

"They need to go week by week, the way we won it before. If they make every week a final, they've a great chance."

And O'Connell believes the chief architect, Kidney, deserves the chance to maintain the current development of this Irish side.

"We're going very well, the boys are playing very well," he said. "All the feedback from camp last November and these two weeks is how even tighter the coaching staff are in terms of working with each other."

"I don't want to be talking about other people's jobs but they seem to be doing very well at the moment. Would I like him to stay on? Yeah, yeah. There's a really good coaching set-up there and they're doing well.

"They've married using senior players' opinions with the coaches' opinions of how to play, and it's all working well together.

"Declan has freshened things up, with Les Kiss concentrating on the attack and Anthony Foley working on defence. It's just new voices.

"The move to Carton House has worked out very well, we've a new gym over there now. The set-up is getting better and better and the players seem to be getting more comfortable with it."

Irish Independent

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