Kidney looking to build momentum against Scots
IRELAND'S latest World Cup assault begins in earnest this afternoon when they run out at Murrayfield to take on Scotland (2.15) in the first of four warm-up internationals and coach Declan Kidney says he and his players can't wait to get going.
Having come through a gruelling pre-season programme, Ireland are seeking to build up momentum ahead of their opening World Cup match against the US on September 11, mindful of the mistakes made before the last tournament when they arrived undercooked in France with calamitous consequences.
"It's great," said Kidney yesterday. "You feel a bit more like a coach now really and the players are very keen. You have the jitters again going into a game and we'll see how much it comes together."
Scotland have picked a near full-strength selection in the first of their two warm-up matches, while Ireland have opted to hold back the majority of their frontline players.
While full-back Rob Kearney plays his first match since November, winger Luke Fitzgerald is looking to bounce back from a difficult Six Nations which saw him asked to slot in for Kearney initially before being dropped for the victory over England.
"Through every career you're going to hit a (tough) patch like that," said Kidney, "but then he scored a great try against Ulster and got to a Magners League and a Heineken Cup final, so he's come through and he's going well again."
Kidney also singled out replacement prop John Hayes, the oldest player in Ireland's 2007 squad, who has forced his way back into the reckoning at 37.
"It's testament to him. You wouldn't believe the way he's gone in training, we've remarked upon it ourselves, he's been moving really well."
Scotland are rated marginal favourites by the bookies, with Andy Robinson's side quoted at 4/5, Ireland 1/1 and the draw 20/1.