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Irish to seek clarification over referee Poite's scrum decisions

IRELAND coach Declan Kidney intends to seek clarification on Romain Poite's refereeing of the scrum following Saturday's 13-11 victory over Italy in the Stadio Flaminio.

Ireland were regularly penalised by Poite at scrum time, even though it seemed to be the Italians who were scrummaging illegally, and Kidney said he was prepared to make "appropriate enquiries" on the matter. The situation is further complicated by Italy coach Nick Mallett's claim in the build-up that Poite had written a letter to the Italian Rugby Federation to apologise for getting his interpretation of the scrum wrong during Ireland's victory over Italy in Croke Park last year. Kidney said he was aware of Mallett's claims and had spoken to Poite about them.

"When I asked him, he just said that it was the coach trying to put pressure on him, it's an old game," said Kidney. Most of the penalties did seem to come in the scrum but we're told that there is an avenue for us to approach this and we have been asked to trust it and I'll ask you to trust me that that is what I'll do. We were told that the scrum would go on the clear and obvious and the referee had his own interpretation of the clear and obvious and that went the way it went. I'll make my case to the appropriate parties and see what type of reaction I get."

Ireland host France next Sunday and, following their unconvincing win in Rome, Kidney's men will go in as massive underdogs in light of Les Bleus' victory over Scotland in Paris on Saturday. Kidney said there were no injuries from the Italy game, although Andrew Trimble and Stephen Ferris remain doubtful for next weekend as they continue to recover from injuries. However, the Ireland coach was more optimistic that No 8 Jamie Heaslip might be available after his ankle problems.

"He (Heaslip) didn't do badly on Thursday and Friday running around, so we'll have to see how he reacts. Stephen, we'll see how he goes on Monday and Andrew's hand is healing well."

Tommy Bowe -- who was in Rome working for the BBC -- looks certain to miss the France game as he continues to recover from a knee injury.

Irish Independent