Declan Kidney happy to throw Richardt Strauss in at deep end
DECLAN KIDNEY will have no hesitation in throwing Richardt Strauss in at the deep end against his native South Africa next month after naming the hooker in his squad for the November internationals.
The 26-year-old will qualify for Ireland through residency next week, just in time to make his debut for his adopted country off the bench against the Springboks. And, after being selected ahead of his Leinster team-mate Sean Cronin as one of just two hookers in the 31-man squad, Strauss is expected to provide back-up to Rory Best on November 10.
Born and raised in Bloemfontein, the former South Africa underage international first came to Ireland in 2009 to join the Blues and will become the first player to wear the green jersey having qualified through residency since Andy Ward did so in the late 1990s and 2000s.
But, while the Ireland coach can see why some may be upset at the South African getting the nod ahead of Irish-born players like Sean Cronin, Damien Varley and Mike Sherry for the games against his native land, Fiji and Argentina, he believes he has to pick the in-form Strauss.
"I respect the fact that people will have their views on all of that," he said. "But our job is to put the best team out for Ireland and if Richardt falls into that, it would be narrow-minded to think that we wouldn't look at every possible option. I don't think we'd be doing our job."
Kidney was dealt a blow with Rob Kearney's back injury ruling him out, but believes that Keith Earls should be fit to wear the No 15 jersey. He also said injury doubts Stephen Ferris and Ronan O'Gara should train next week when the squad assembles.
Meanwhile, Anthony Foley and Greg Feek have been drafted back into the coaching ticket for the upcoming matches. Munster forwards coach Foley will work with the Ireland defence during the series, releasing Les Kiss to work on the attack, while Feek will double-up on his day job with Leinster in supporting the scrum.