Team boss praises master planner Kidney
ONE of Declan Kidney's greatest strengths as Ireland's head coach is his ability to "put it all together", according to team manager Mick Kearney.
He co-ordinates all their efforts, decides who gets time with the players and how much and, crucially, has the good sense to allow those experts he appointed do what he recruited them to do, all the while overseeing everything.
"Declan organises massive attention to detail into every training session and every game plan, depending on the opposition," explained Kearney.
"He co-ordinates all of that and ensures that the coaches all get their time with the players, which is probably the most difficult aspect of it all.
"The coaches always want more time with the players. They're all selfish in that regard, which is a good thing. Declan puts it all together and ensures everyone gets what they need, and he does so in a phenomenally successful way."
Kidney is, for want of a better description, the CEO of the organisation. He is the head and those executives under him – the various coaches – report to him. There is no official tiered structure to the coaching team as such.
Les Kiss, though, is the one who communicates the plans to the players on the training field. His is the voice the players hear during the on-field sessions more than most.
Gert Smal was recruited along with Kiss and Alan Gaffney when Kidney assumed the head coach position.
"When the coaches come up with various strategies, Les puts it into action in the training field. All the coaches have their input and they all communicate with the players when detailing their specific areas of responsibility," added Kearney.
There has been a marked improvement in Ireland's play in recent matches. Their attack play is far sharper and the defence has also improved hugely.
"I think there a number of reasons for the improvement," added Kearney. "At our camp in August the players realised they needed to acknowledge the step-up between provincial and international rugby and needed to up standards.
"And the addition of a new coach in Anthony (Foley) has helped too. It's a mixture of both."