Sunday 27 May 2018

David Wallace reveals how livid Declan Kidney was with Warren Gatland ahead of 2009 Grand Slam decider

Declan Kidney and Warren Gatland
Declan Kidney and Warren Gatland

Independent.ie Newdesk

Munster and Ireland legend David Wallace has revealed how angry Declan Kidney was with Warren Gatland ahead of Ireland's Grand Slam game with Wales in 2009.

Ahead of the encounter at the Millennium Stadium, the Kiwi goaded the Ireland head coach and his players with some explosive pre-game comments.

He said: "Probably, out of all the teams in the Six Nations, the Welsh players dislike the Irish the most.

"After the Scottish game (last Saturday), the Irish players were an hour-and-a-half in the changing room celebrating and singing, so they were clearly happy where they were at.

"It's how they handle that pressure. There has been expectation on them over a number of years, and in a couple of World Cups as well.

"At international level, when there has been that expectation either to perform in Six Nations tournaments or World Cups, they've sometimes faltered a little bit.

"It will be interesting to see how (coach) Declan (Kidney) handles that, and how the players handle that this week.

"If you go back to the autumn, they [Ireland] were talking themselves up a lot before the All Blacks game - and they really performed poorly in that game."

If Gatland's aim was to irk his opposite number then his unprovoked comments had the desired effect.

"I do remember Gats having a go at Ireland, and maybe Declan Kidney a little bit, before the game in the build-up," Wallace told the Left Wing, Independent.ie's rugby podcast in association with Laya Healthcare.

"I've never seen Deccie so animated. He's normally cool, calm and collected.

"I thought he was going to have a heart attack. His face was full of anger and he was shouting at the team meeting. Normally he would be calming people down and saying go out and enjoy it but he was absolutely fuming.

"He was very personally hurt obviously you know and I think he wanted that message to get across to the team.

"I've never seen him in that manner before."

Ireland would go on to win a titanic game, and their first Grand Slam since 1948, thanks to Ronan O'Gara's late drop goal and Stephen Jones last-gasp penalty miss.

Luke Fitzgerald also spoke about an encounter with Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards before the clash which summed up the Irish psyche heading into the encounter.

"I was kicking before the game and I was kicking in their half but none of their players were out. They weren't setting out cones or anything like that  and he was like, 'Get the f**k off the pitch'. I just told him to 'p**s off'. I might have said something more colourful than that.

"I think it was the group mentality, we weren't going to be pushed around on the day by them and I think it showed because that is such a tough place to go and win."

Subscribe to The Left Wing, Independent.ie's Rugby podcast in association with Laya Healthcare, with Luke Fitzgerald and Will Slattery for the best discussion and analysis each week. From in depth interviews with some of Irish rugby's biggest stars to unmatched insights into the provinces and the national team, The Left Wing has all your rugby needs covered.

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