Monday 20 January 2020

Feel-good factor returns as Kidney looks to future

Ireland coach Declan Kidney. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland coach Declan Kidney. Photo: Sportsfile

Conor George

THE hand grenade was slowly rolled into the scrum surrounding the Ireland coach. The pin, however, was left in as Declan Kidney was not about to be drawn on his future after the Six Nations championship next year.

His contract, and those of his staff, are up at the end of the season, when Ireland will be two years away from the World Cup.

Since the tour to New Zealand, the assumption has been that the Six Nations will be his last hurrah with Ireland. But that's all just conjecture.

Since the Grand Slam win of 2009, the lows in the job have outnumbered the highs. For every success (beating Australia in the World Cup), there's been an England in the Six Nations (30-9) or Hamilton performance (60-0) to bring the mood down.

He himself claimed anyone would be mad to want the job ... does he really want it?

"I don't know, I've been too busy getting ready for matches, really," he claimed. "I've just been enjoying their (the players) company and that's what I hope to do for the next few hours." When pressed on whether he was interested in a contract extension, he wasn't for budging: "I'm interested in having an old drink now."

To be fair, Kidney (pictured) certainly has earned a respite and the job, for as long as he has it, is to continue to build for the future.

"My task is to make sure we have as strong a squad as possible," said Kidney. "I'll try (in conjunction with the provinces) and get whatever time we can together. It's a new squad. Of the 32 we had in training this week, we had 17 new guys compared to the World Cup. That's a monumental turnover.

"The bench had three one-cappers. I think four of the pack together had 21 caps – two or three years ago if you had 21 caps you were a novice. Now all of a sudden there's 21 caps between four of them.

"I think that's why there'll be a lot of talk about Craig (Gilroy), and Chris Henry, you could pick him out as well. Peter (O'Mahony) has started to come good and it takes a few fellas to do that. But I suppose wingers are a bit like goalscorers in soccer aren't they?

"They get all the glory, but it's the work that goes on inside."

The gap between now and the Six Nations is too great for Saturday's result to bear any real relevance. What it does do, however, is ensure that Ireland, and Kidney, will have a positive feeling this Christmas – quite a contrast to how he was feeling in the summer.

"It's a good feeling going into Christmas and (we) will probably go from being no-hopers to having a chance," said Kidney.

"But once you play Wales in Wales, and it's a 1.30 kick-off, we will need to get out of the blocks faster than we've done for the last couple of years and it's only prep time that will enable that."

Irish Independent

The Throw-In: New era for Dublin, all up for grabs in the hurling league and club final heroics

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport