DECLAN KIDNEY has come under fire for his conservative Six Nations squad announcement yesterday after the Ireland coach stuck exclusively to the players who last year failed to reach the World Cup semi-finals for the first time.
Kidney’s 24-man party did not include the in-form trio of Luke Fitzgerald, Chris Henry and Dan Tuohy, who were all selected in the secondary Wolfhounds squad to face England ‘A’ this month, while other impressive performers this season such as Peter O’Mahony, Paul Marshall and Craig Gilroy failed to make either squad. Brian McLaughlin, whose Ulster side are chasing a Heineken Cup quarter-final berth in Clermont this weekend, said he was disappointed by the selections, which he did not feel were a reflection of current form.
“It is disappointing,” said McLaughlin. “Declan has decided he is going to stick with his World Cup squad and give them an opportunity in the Six Nations.
Chris Henry has been exceptional all season and Dan Tuohy has shown in the last two or three games that he’s very capable of playing at that level.”
Second-row Tuohy loses out to Leo Cullen despite reports that the 34-year-old Leinster captain would miss the Six Nations due to an ongoing Achilles problem. Cullen will be monitored next week to determine whether he requires surgery, which would entail a six- to eight-week recovery.
Kidney said there are still opportunities for players outside the senior 24 to force their way into the squad to face Wales on February 5 – due to be picked after the Wolfhounds play England Saxons on January 30.