O'Callaghan confident Kidney explosion has kicked errors into touch
Published 09/03/2011 | 05:00
Perhaps we should not have been too surprised to learn of a volcanic eruption within the Irish camp following their recent epidemic of asinine indiscipline.
What would have prompted raised eyebrows, however, was the source from which the violent explosion was expelled, the proverbially mild-mannered Declan Kidney, who, last Tuesday, upbraided his squad most uncharacteristically.
For Donncha O'Callaghan, no stranger to Kidney's cunning wiles and ways, it was a notable departure from type. And, for the Irish supporters, an equally rare, albeit second-hand, glimpse of the raging passion that courses through the coach's veins.
"The silly ones will always annoy you and I think anyone who was in our meeting with Deccie in Carton House wouldn't want to be on the end of a silly penalty this week," O'Callaghan said.
"Because, to be fair, you probably know him all as a nice man and really calm and composed, but he f*****g let fly on Tuesday and you just don't want to be in there, following the review of that game, being on the end of something silly."
After all the mealy-mouthed nonsense emanating from the camp about refereeing reviews and scarcely credible calls from the captain for re-offending players to be dropped, Kidney has determinedly drawn a line in the sand on the discipline issue.
The players are in sole control of their destiny and, with Mervyn Murphy's superb video analysis and Les Kiss' stout defensive systems supporting them, there will be no excuses in Cardiff for a penalty count once more accelerating into double figures. Hence, Kidney's aberrant departure from the stoic portrayal he has preferred to adopt for so long. It's been a while since his fuse has blown so spectacularly.
"Yeah it has," O'Callaghan admitted. "I can remember one or two with Munster, but he was fairly annoyed, yeah, to be fair.
"And you can say that you can self-police and stuff like that, but when it comes down from the top, you have to perk up and listen to it. None of it would carry the weight that when it came from Deccie there on Tuesday.
"You could see it's the main man calling the shots there and guys didn't want to reoffend.
"You don't want to be playing with 15 altar boys. There are certain balls you have to contest, and there are certain penalties we're going to give away. But it's getting the balance right between the crazy, stupid ones that just cost your team."
Kidney's timely prod of electricity through his team could be critical; suppressing his emotions was clearly having little effect on his recidivist team. A little honest anger can be more effective than none.
"Well, yeah, of course, to be fair you know him as well, it's tough for him to be that blunt and direct," offered O'Callaghan. "It's a kind of side to him that you don't like to see too much."
Saturday must deliver improve-ment. "I suppose we gave away 12 penalties and they say in international rugby you tend to give away eight, so we had four stupid penalties and you can control those ones.
"You have to trust the defensive line. I think there's massive trust in what Les has brought in and there's massive trust in your team-mates to make their shots. International rugby is brilliant. One mistake is punished.
"You might get away with stuff at club and provincial level, but here, give away a penalty and your man hits it over from 50 yards. Miss a tackle and they score under the posts. It's just unforgiving."
As if discipline wasn't enough of a problem, Ireland's line-out is not a thing of beauty either. Paul O'Connell has admitted his calls have been below-par and Gert Smal is not satisfied with the set-piece.
"I wouldn't even question any of Paul's calls," demurred O'Callaghan. "I'd say if you went up to the video analysis room now, he'd be looking at Wales' line-outs from 1922 or something like that."
O'Callaghan has so much to say, even offering advice to a captain taunted into retirement by an unidentified internet crackpot. Soaring expectations need to be leavened.
"I was watching the show on Moss Finn last night and you saw when they won the Triple Crown and people were running on the pitch, lifting them off it. And you're thinking if we won a Triple Crown at the moment, they'd probably be giving out to us.
"People's expectations are way higher than they should be.
"I haven't really noticed it, but people could just try to be nicer to Drico, it would be appreciated -- wish him good morning because he's obviously getting a hard time. He should move to Cork, it's very nice in Cork."