IRELAND coach Declan Kidney has made two right decisions for the wrong reason.
PERHAPS, scrum-half Eoin Reddan and lock Donnacha Ryan deserved a chance to show what they can do before the fourth round of matches in the Six Nations. They have only been given an opportunity because of injuries to Conor Murray and captain Paul O’Connell.
“You’ve two different jobs,” said Reddan, reduced to the role of reserve nine for the first three matches.
“If you’re starting, you’re more involved in how training is going in the week. You’ve probably more of a say in making sure everything goes well and in the plays you may use at the weekend.
“If you’re on the bench, your job is to stay positive all week and look at the game and see where you can bring a difference.
“They are two different jobs. But, I think the roles of each job are clear. You just do each one to the best of your ability and get on with it.
“That’s what I’ve been doing so far. This week, obviously, I have the nicer job which is getting to start.”
There have been strong calls before now for Reddan to be promoted to partner Jonathan Sexton at half-back in order to get the Irish backline moving quicker and slicker.
The 31-year-old has amassed 40 caps for Ireland, more of them (21) from the bench than as a starter, and he has never really found a coach who believes in him as much as Warren Gatland did at London Wasps for three seasons from 2005 to 2008.
“You always hope you are doing enough. At the same time, you have to be honest with yourself and decide if you did a good job based on what you had to do,” admitted Reddan, in reference to his deputy role to Murray.
“If the answer to that is ‘yes’ you have to be happy with that, that you can build your confidence week-by-week so that if a week like this comes on you’re ready to go.”
This is a voice of experience and of a man who has had a lot of time to make peace with the role he has been given as Ireland’s number two and Leinster’s alternating number one with Isaac Boss.
“Your job is to come on and help Ireland. That’s it whether it is from the first minute or near the end. That is what I’ve been trying to do and what I will try to do at the weekend,” added Reddan.
He has managed to hide the frustration that has been a regular companion through his four-club career: “It is important that you keep your head and realise what is controllable.”
The split-second decision a scrum-half makes, whether it is to go left or right, take it on or let it go, can make all the difference in the game. Make enough of the right ones and you will make a career out of it.
“The speed of the ball does affect how you can push the game or how you control the game. It is important that you demand from the players around you,” said Reddan.
“Backs are always screaming for the ball and forwards are always wondering why you’re giving it to them. You get caught in the middle,” he added.
Now, he’s ready to go.
Ireland: R Kearney; T Bowe, K Earls, G D’Arcy, A Trimble; J Sexton, E Reddan; C Healy, R Best (capt), M Ross, D O’Callaghan, D Ryan, S Ferris, S O’Brien, J Heaslip.