Slow start could spell disaster against French, admits Kidney
IRELAND coach Declan Kidney was pleased to get his Six Nations campaign back on track with Saturday's 42-10 victory over Italy but warned that a similar slow start next Sunday against France will be disastrous.
Ireland have not won in Paris since 2000 and have a history of allowing France to pull away into decisive leads by half-time. And, after a stilted first-half performance that saw Italy level to 10-10 approaching the interval, Kidney agreed that starting poorly in Paris is his main concern.
"Yeah it is," he said. "Against Wales, that put us under pressure and today it put us under pressure. This time we learned. You're hoping to carry that learning into next week too. Obviously, if we make the mistakes we did early today or we did against Wales...
"I'd like to think we got a lot more right than we got wrong. That's why when we lose we try not to get too despondent and we won't be getting too carried away now, there's definitely work to be done.
"After that Wales match we said we wanted to look at things that were under our control to fix -- some of those we fixed today and there are others that we are just working on. It is not as simple as just getting the ball in your own half and kicking it, that doesn't work anymore -- you just have to work on the team ethic as to how to move out of it."
Following his impressive contribution off the bench which sparked a marked increase in tempo, there has been a clamour for Eoin Reddan to come in at scrum-half next week. But Kidney praised Conor Murray for his contribution and said there were other factors behind the improvement.
"I think the quickening up came from the quality of the ball we got in the last 25 minutes," he said.
"Where does the balance come between things? You've good players on the bench, there were things Conor did in the first half that I thought were excellent that would be the hidden work, some of it defensive, some of it tidying up on the chip lines (sweeping).
"It's probably a story more than it needs to be. Conor did a good job. The type of the ball we were getting (for Reddan) was flowing more freely. That was because of the breakdown work."
Although he accepted that Ireland are in a better position than they were two weeks ago before the cancelled match, Kidney said Sunday's match in Paris represents a monumental challenge.
"We're good enough to challenge anybody, we just have to be wise now at what we do in training this week because we need to treat each game like a final. The World Cup finalists in their own backyard? I'm sure their president will be on to them to have a good game."
While there are a couple of knocks to monitor this week in Gordon D'Arcy (shoulder) and Rob Kearney (groin), the Ireland coach said there were no major injuries to worry about.