Sunday 18 March 2018

Conor George: Answering Kidney's call

Keith Earls in training this week. The Munster man was the first player to be given his debut under Kidney when he played against Canada in 2008
Keith Earls in training this week. The Munster man was the first player to be given his debut under Kidney when he played against Canada in 2008

DECLAN KIDNEY has steadfastly dismissed queries about his future during the Six Nations Championship.

It has been suggested that the Ireland coach is keen to extend his tenure to the 2015 World Cup at least and lead Ireland's next generation of rugby stars.

In his favour is his proven ability to rebuild teams, whether with PBC in Cork or with Munster. Even his most vociferous of critics will acknowledge that he has a gift when it comes to moulding and developing teams.

The Ireland team that starts in the Stadio Olympico tomorrow is teeming with players he has brought through to international level and, in all, since replacing Eddie O'Sullivan in 2008, 39 players have made their debuts under Kidney.

Is Stephen Archer, the one uncapped player in the squad for tomorrow's game, about to become the 40th and possibly final debutant of the Declan Kidney years?

Here are the list of players, with their debut dates, Kidney has brought into the Irish team during his tenure.

Keith Earls (08/11/08)

One of the most exciting talents to emerge under Kidney. Less than 12 months after his international debut he was a British & Irish Lion. And he's still only 25. 38 caps

Donnacha Ryan (22/11/08)

Ryan has been the leader of the pack in this year's Championship. He has been playing through the pain barrier and has been getting from match to match by sheer will power. 27

Tom Court (15/02/09)

He was destroyed in Twickenham last season when brought on at tighthead. Got one chance in this year's Championship against Scotland and has faded into the background since. 30

darren cave (23/05/09)

One to watch for the future. There is a gap opening up at outside centre, but Cave has yet to prove he has what it takes to step up to international level. 3

ian dowling (23/05/09)

A hip injury cut short his career and he is now doing a physiotherapy course in Limerick. Had neither the gas nor the verve of, for example, Zebo, but a solid winger who did the basics very well and was an integral part of the Munster squad. 2

ian keatley (23/05/09)

He wasn't even considered this season. He will hope to take over from O'Gara in Munster soon, but he has yet to show that he is capable of reaching the standard required, much less sustain it. He runs well and is physically strong. 2

john muldoon (23/05/09)

He got a chance to impress in the game against Fiji, but damaged knee ligaments. There is a plethora of back-row forwards in Ireland and his international prospects were undone by the superior quality of that competition. 3

niall ronan (23/05/09)

Injury derailed his progress. He is a genuine groundhog openside, but lacks the ball carrying strength of a Sean O'Brien and David Wallace. His injury has also seen him fade into the background at Munster. 4

ian whitten (23/05/09)

Who? He was capped on the tour of North America in 2009 when with Ulster. The centre won two caps and joined Exeter in 2012. 2

ryan caldwell (23/05/09)

The second-row has also suffered from the 'out-of-sight, out-of-mind' syndrome since joining Bath from Ulster in 2011. He won two caps on the 2009 tour, but hasn't been talked about since. 2

mike ross (23/05/09)

He fell off the radar as far as Kidney was concerned following that 2009 tour and it was only in the 2010 November series that he resurfaced. He has been an ever-present since and is now the Irish side's most valuable player. 28

denis hurley (31/05/09)

A solid full-back who doesn't have the skill set of a Kearney or Zebo, but does the basics well. His strength is his consistency. Has also played on the wing. He was the 24th man for the 2011 Six Nations campaign, but saw no action. 1

cian healy (15/11/09)

Another success story of the Kidney era. The loosehead is a possible starter for the Lions this summer. He is ferociously strong, an excellent scrummager, mighty ball carrier and wrecking machine in the loose. 38

jonathan sexton (21/11/09)

Has evolved into a fantastic out-half. He struggled initially with consistency at international level, but those days are behind him and he will be the Lions starting out-half as long as he is fit. He is strong in all facets of the game. 36

sean o'brien (21/11/09)

He is a human wrecking ball with the capacity to play across all three back-row positions. His carrying abilities and tackling counts are beyond belief. And he has also proved to be a surprising alternative in the line-out when the occasion demands it. 26

sean cronin (21/11/09)

He has suffered because of the rise to prominence of Richardt Strauss in Leinster and one suspects the proposed return to Connacht would have been a smart move career-wise. He is always busy in open play, but doubts persist about his accuracy out of touch. 25

kevin mclaughlin (06/02/10)

His height gives him an advantage over some other back-rows, making him a definite line-out option. He is excellent for Leinster, but the heavy traffic in the back-row has seen him slip down the pecking order. 5

dan touhy (12/06/10)

The Ulster second-row has had a tough season with injury and had an even tougher summer when he was the Test pick for the tour to New Zealand. Has faded into the background since that tour. 5

john fogarty (12/06/10)

Had to retire from the game because of migranes caused by concussion. He was raved about by his team-mates and was a hugely popular member of the squad. An excellent hooker. 1

Chris Henry (26/06/10)

Knee ligament damage derailed his Six Nations. He is another genuine groundhog openside and one who has been excellent for Ulster. Isn't quite at that level where he's able to dislodge one of the back-row incumbents. 6

Rhys Ruddock (26/06/10)

Leinster rave about his versatility and his ball-carrying abilities. He has yet to show he can perform on a consistent level with the Leinster senior side and has been passed out by the likes of Peter O'Mahony and Iain Henderson of late. 1

Damien Varley (26/06/10)

Doubts about his accuracy out of touch remain, but as a scrummaging hooker, he is highly regarded. He is also very strong in open play, but is, at best, fifth choice for Ireland and probably second with Munster at the moment. 2

devin toner (13/11/10)

A surprise pick on the bench for this weekend's game. He is very tall and a decent line-out bet as a result. Apart from his height, however, it's hard to see what all the fuss is about. 4

fergus mcfadden (05/02/11)

Suffers because of his versatility, but before he fractured his rib, he was one of Ireland's best backs against France. He is also a kicking option. Favours the centre, but Kidney is known to be sceptical about his ability to offload consistently. 17

Mike McCarthy (06/08/11)

A late-comer to the international game, but a man-mountain who is absolutely loving the opportunities that are being presented. He is quiet by nature off the field, but not on it. Fought his way back from a knee injury to reclaim his spot against France. 9

Felix Jones 0(06/08/11)

Has fallen down the pecking order. He was 80 minutes away from the World Cup squad (and at the time his form deserved it), but injury derailed him before the squad was announced. He hasn't been the same player since and is just about clinging on to his Munster spot. 3

Conor Murray (13/08/11)

Another success story and one that started under Tony McGahan at Munster. The Australian nurtured young talent like no other and Ireland are now benefiting. His best game to date was against France. A Lions contender. 18

Peter O'Mahony (25/02/12)

This player gets better and better the more he plays. He is a hugely honest performer who is a phenomenal line-out operator and tremendously brave and effective ball carrier. He was magnificent against France. 13

Declan Fitzpatrick (09/06/12)

If Fitzpatrick could stay fit he would be a huge asset for Ireland. He showed his capabilities for Ulster when John Afoa was injured last season. That's a big problem because Ulster's over-reliance on non-Irish players to fill critical positions is not helping Ireland one bit. 4

Simon Zebo (09/06/12)

Flashy, brash and outrageously talented! He showed his versatility at full-back in November and on the wing against Wales at the start of the Championship. He needs to keep his feet on the ground though. But the sky is the limit. 5

Ronan Loughney (09/06/12)

His only experience to date at international level was against New Zealand in 2012 ... poor chap! He has been with Connacht since 2006, but has yet to progress his career. 1

Richardt Strauss (10/11/12)

South-African born, but qualifies as a result of the three-year residency rule. He is excellent all-round and would have been putting Rory Best under pressure, but for the ankle ligament injury that derailed his season. 2

Dave Kilcoyne (10/11/12)

When the Munster scrum imploded the rush for the cheque book to solve the problem was immediate ... they didn't know what they had in the stable already. Kilcoyne is a massive success story this season. He can scrummage and is a hugely destructive player in the loose. 5

Michael Bent (10/11/12)

The decision to bring Bent over from New Zealand will haunt Declan Kidney and the scrum coach in particular. He had barely set foot on the tarmac when he was handed an Irish jersey in November. He was briefly in the Irish camp over the Six Nations, but nowhere near the match-day squad. 2

Iain Henderson (10/11/12)

He can play in the back-row or second-row and until he decides where his future lies, could fall between both stools. The worrying shortage of quality second-rows coming through the provincial set-up should help point the way. 4

Craig Gilroy (24/11/12)

A try-scoring machine. His scores against Fiji prompted his promotion and he is an excellent prospect. He has yet to fully establish his credentials and has benefited from Tommy Bowe's absence. Has taken his chances excellently. 4

Paddy Jackson (24/02/13)

He was fast-tracked into the starting team against Scotland for reasons best known to the management. After a shaky outing in Murrayfield, he was solid against France and this will stand to him as he continues his apprenticeship under Sexton in the coming seasons. 2

Luke Marshall (24/02/13)

He promises to be a fixture with Ireland for some time to come. He can pass, run, tackle and kick and he's just 21 years of age. The jersey is his to lose now. 2

Ian Madigan (09/03/13)

Apparently his performance for Leinster in Newport convinced Mark Tainton that he was suddenly ready for international rugby, which the senior assistants had doubted until that game. He is a talent, no doubt. His test will be in next season's Heineken Cup. 1

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport