Kidney defends Heaslip’s right to air opinions

Des Berry

COACH Declan Kidney may not agree with everything Jamie Heaslip says, but he has defended his right to say it, even though it may not entirely reflect well on the management.

Heaslip was thought to have crossed the line when seen to question some of Kidney’s selection decisions recently: “It was suggested to me that I look at Jamie’s thing,” said the coach.

“We chatted about it. Part of a coach’s job is that you have to make up your mind who plays and who doesn’t. There are always going to be 15 players pleased and a lot more than 15 players unhappy with it.”

Kidney has refused to pull a steel curtain down around his players. He is confident that they are mature enough to say what they feel without damaging the overall spirit in the camp.

“Rugby is a game of decisions. Players have to make decisions out on the pitch. Every time a guy is carrying the ball, every time a fella is defending, he has to decide what to do,” he said.

“You can’t expect fellas to make instant decisions like that if they don’t have opinions. They have to make an opinion on what is happening in front of them.

“If they have opinions, they are the type of men who have got to where they are because they have them. A lot of them have been successful over the years. They haven’t got that way by having no opinions. If they have them, if they express them, that’s fine.”

Ireland manager Paul McNaughton took an equally ‘positive spin on Heaslip’s view. There has been no in-house retribution or internal squabble.

“We have all looked at the interview a number of times. You can go into it with a positive view or a negative view. We didn’t see anything wrong with the interview. If you wanted to get something out of it, I am sure you could get something out of it.

“We don’t see it as an issue with Jamie,” he said. Meanwhile, Stephen Ferris has been ruled out for the remainder of the six Nations and Leinster’s Rob Kearney signed a two-year extension of his deal with the IRFU, keeping him at Leinster until June 2013.