Monday 27 March 2017

Coach stresses importance of 'full-tilt' play as he prepares for Wales clash

Hugh Farrelly

A TWELFTH win in 14 matches, the ghosts of Paris exorcised, England's Grand Slam dream ruined and the possibility of retaining the Six Nations title kept alive, but Ireland coach Declan Kidney was not about to lose the run of himself in the wake of Saturday's 20-16 victory.

Pointing out Ireland's lack of resources compared to the major rugby-playing nations, Kidney stressed the importance of the squad maximising their potential.

"Unless we play full tilt, what happened us in Paris can happen again," said Kidney. "We have to play to our limit all the time, which is a big ask of fellahs.

"A major thing is how you respond to adversity and I think (it was significant) the way we met the adversity we faced in Paris. Our defence held up when England had their chances which I was delighted with and, on the other side, we were able to take most of our chances except for a few kicks, but they were difficult kicks too -- from the touchline and inside our own half. That's why I'm delighted."

When England went ahead late on through Jonny Wilkinson's drop-goal, Ireland drew on the experience of substitutes Ronan O'Gara, Leo Cullen and Shane Jennings and Kidney lauded their contribution for Tommy Bowe's game-clinching try.

belief

"We said to the players at half-time this wasn't just going to happen, we were going to have to go after it. The lads on the touchline were fresh and I have belief in them as well. Ronan put us down into the corner, Leo is an expert in putting pressure on opposition lineouts.

"Shane then at the back of the lineout was fresh out and managed to close down Jonny Wilkinson's angle for that kick to touch and we got a lineout on the 22 and then along comes a try."

Kidney also had words for Ireland's first centurion, John Hayes, who led the team out.

"I'm delighted for him. It was his 100th cap, himself and his family deserved us to win it, there's was no way John would enjoy it if we didn't win. I don't think we spent too much time trying to work it out (running out), it was a case of 'Hayes, come on, you're going'. Let's see if there's another 100 in him."

Next up for Kidney is Wales, who will seek to emulate their 2008 Croke Park victory and gain revenge for Ireland's memorable Cardiff victory last year. The Welsh launched an extraordinary fight-back against France last Friday night, and Kidney is preparing for a monumental challenge.

"It's huge. Wales have been really unlucky not to win all three. I don't see them giving us the points England and France got and they are a side that makes you play for the 80 minutes, as was shown last year when it was really just the kick of a ball in it."

Irish Independent

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