Declan Kidney says August's disappointing warm-up campaign has not affected his belief that his team can "click" at the World Cup, WRITES HUGH FARRELLY.
Four consecutive defeats, allied to a succession of injury problems, saw Ireland head into the tournament amid a barrage of criticism and low expectations, having dropped to eighth in the world rankings. However, Kidney is convinced the squad can draw on their August experiences to turn their poor form around when the competitive action begins against the USA tomorrow week.
"We want to use the benefits of August, the hurt, the disappointment," said Kidney. "You never want to lose a match but you have to have a belief too. When you know you are dealing with good players, you know that it will turn the corner. I've been around teams that haven't gone well for a while, then something just clicks in. We need to click, I wouldn't deny that, but we can.
"The plan was never to be eighth in the rankings but I've also been at it long to enough to know the tournament is what determines it (success), not where we are now. Now it's cup rugby."
Cian Healy remains the major doubt for the opening clash with the USA having damaged his eye socket against England, with team manager Paul McNaughton admitting that it was "unlikely" the prop would be available.
Healy and Gordon D'Arcy (groin strain) are due to arrive in Queenstown on Monday, and Kidney was confident the centre would be fit to face the USA.
Rob Kearney took a limited part in training as he continues to recover from a groin strain but is expected to be cleared for the opener, as is Sean O'Brien (knee) who took part in 90pc of training.