Thursday 22 February 2018

Heat on Kidney

Ireland have quality players who are not playing to their potential: Marshall

Declan Kidney. Photo: Getty Images
Declan Kidney. Photo: Getty Images

Hugh Farrelly

ALL BLACKS legend Justin Marshall has questioned the ability of Ireland's management team to get the best out of their players.

The 81-times capped New Zealand scrum-half, now working as a TV pundit, has been disappointed with Ireland's performances since they landed the Grand Slam last year and believes that Declan Kidney and his coaching staff are failing to maximise the potential of the talent at their disposal.

"I'm not sure what's going on with Ireland at the moment," said Marshall.

"This is a side that is underperforming and it's very evident by their results. This team really hasn't changed a significant amount since they won the Grand Slam, if you look at the last two years the results aren't great, the Six Nations wasn't fantastic.

"And, from an outsider's perspective, I look at it and think, why? I look at that backline, I look at that loose forward trio, I look at a guy like Cian Healy -- these are quality players who are not playing to their potential.

"Is it coaching? I don't know what it is; I don't know why they are not getting the performances, but it's very evident that they are lacking in confidence and some form of motivation, which I would find very bizarre when you are an international. Confidence is a big thing in sport and something is amiss.

"I've been here and I played in Europe for five years and I've seen Munster and Leinster have their success. I've seen the calibre of players and Ireland are not producing the performances on the pitch to match the individuals that they have.

"So, it's collective thing and they are just not getting it right. When you lose belief, you need something significant to change that -- now a win against the All Blacks would do that and it would be a turning point. They have the skills, there is a truckload of Lions players in there who did well in South Africa in difficult circumstances. They have players who know how to play a game and how to read a game, but it's not quite clicking and we can all see it."

Ireland announce their team to face New Zealand today with out-half Jonathan Sexton and scrum-half Eoin Reddan in line for a recall to the side in place of Ronan O'Gara and Peter Stringer.

With Donnacha Ryan suspended, Mick O'Driscoll could also return to the second-row with Tom Court replacing John Hayes at tight-head prop.

Irish Independent

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