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Kidney refuses to press panic button for Scots clash

Despite calls from Irish captain Brian O'Driscoll for players to improve or otherwise risk losing their places, Declan Kidney has insisted that changes to the side that lost narrowly to France last weekend are not inevitable.

During Ireland's Grand Slam year of 2009, Kidney made several unforced changes to the team that travelled to Murrayfield but despite a series of below-par displays, culminating in home defeat to France last time out, the coach refuses to press the panic button.

"We obviously lost the last game but we'd won the game before that," he said from the team's Cork base yesterday. "There's nothing inevitable about changing. I was happy about several aspects of the France game, we got a bit of continuity from the week before but then we have to give the provincial guys every respect as well, let them show whether they can bring a bit of a spark."

The return of Andrew Trimble and Tommy Bowe will heighten the pressure ahead of next Wednesday's selection, as will the determination of players such as Peter Stringer to deliver pertinent points this weekend.

Referring to O'Driscoll's clarion call after the France defeat, Kidney believed it was "a player giving an example of how self-critical they are.

"But what you don't want is a fellah going out, all of a sudden he has one error and he thinks that's me gone now, and he starts to clam up. They need to be backed, but so do the guys performing this weekend," he added.

Kidney refused to be drawn about whether prop Tony Buckley was only offered a one-year deal by IRFU bosses before snapping up a three-year deal with Sale. However, he did insist that Buckley's World Cup hopes would not be dashed by his decision to opt out of the Irish system from next season.

"Obviously, I would prefer it if all the Irish players stayed at home," he said. "I would have liked Tony to stay but it's not always possible. But we will be keeping an eye on him. He will play for Ireland again."

Irish Independent