Kidney to give O'Gara the nod
Munster ace looks set to replace Sexton for Scotland clash
Published 23/02/2011 | 05:00
AFTER acknowledging yesterday that confidence and communication issues are hindering their progress, Ireland could be ready to turn to the match-winning abilities of Ronan O'Gara for Sunday's crucial Six Nations clash with Scotland.
Coach Declan Kidney names his side to travel to Edinburgh at lunchtime today and may look to the 105-cap veteran to provide the winning ingredient following their narrow defeat to France. Jonathan Sexton has usurped O'Gara as first-choice out-half over the past two seasons, but while the Leinster man performed well against Italy and France, O'Gara's superb form has made a compelling case for inclusion.
The 33-year-old could be one of only two changes, with Tommy Bowe expected to return to the right wing following his recovery from a knee injury. Scrum-half Tomas O'Leary continues to experience problems with his back, so Peter Stringer was called into the squad.
And while Ireland said Stringer and Eoin Reddan are both "in contention," they are confident O'Leary will be fit.
O'Gara and Bowe would increase the experience and vocal levels, and backs coach Alan Gaffney yesterday admitted that communication and confidence have become major issues, manifesting themselves in a high error count.
"We've got to communicate a lot better," said the Australian. "We don't talk much. We've got to get guys out there to stand up, be accountable, chat, communicate and make the game easier for each other.
"You can't just rely on a 10 to make the decision to kick," added Gaffney, referring to Sexton's game management against France. "There were other backs there and nobody said a hell of a lot. There is an anxiousness there. Coughing up ball in training seems to be transferring to the pitch and that was a concentration thing, and that's all it can be.
"We're not getting the results because we're not executing well enough, but if we go out there and perform and get that result, confidence levels will rise enormously."
Scotland also name their team today with Chris Paterson expected to start at full-back and Mike Blair to form the half-back combination with Ruaridh Jackson.
IRELAND (possible) -- L Fitzgerald; T Bowe, B O'Driscoll (capt), G D'Arcy, K Earls; R O'Gara, T O'Leary; C Healy, R Best, M Ross; D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell; S O'Brien, D Wallace, J Heaslip.