Tuesday 20 February 2018

We were hammered, we won't hide from it -- Kidney

A dejected Jonathan Sexton after the whitewash at the Waikato Stadium in Hamilton
A dejected Jonathan Sexton after the whitewash at the Waikato Stadium in Hamilton

Hugh Farrelly in Hamilton

UNDER-PRESSURE Ireland coach Declan Kidney said Saturday's record 60-0 loss to the All Blacks was "unacceptable" and "embarrassing", but insisted that the team would learn from the experience.

Kidney, whose contract runs until the end of next year's Six Nations, won the Grand Slam in his first season in charge in 2009 but has been the focus of widespread anger and disillusionment among Irish rugby supporters in the wake of last weekend's humiliation.

Stressing it was "an honour" to coach Ireland and that he would continue to do so, Kidney said anger among the fans was justified and there were no excuses for the poor performance.


"We won't try and hide from it," said Kidney. "We were hammered and it's unacceptable. We need to learn from it and improve from it and I've absolutely no doubt we'll do that.

"You don't get into it (coaching) for games like this. But you're the coach, you're the one that has the responsibility to rectify it. I've been in it long enough, whether it is 20, 30, 40 (points), once you lose, you lose, but that was particularly embarrassing."

Kidney accepted that Ireland, who repeatedly expressed their desire to improve from Test to Test, are dogged by inconsistency, with the previous weekend's excellent display in Christchurch sandwiched by two trouncings.

"I will certainly have to ask questions as to why that happened again so soon after the first Test when I felt we had learnt a lesson," he said.

"We didn't (improve). We didn't win the collisions, we made turnovers when we shouldn't have because we forced passes. Our kicking game was loose. They played a smarter game. They put us under more pressure and we didn't adapt to the field position game that they played. That's where we have to look at playing smarter."

New Zealand won the collision battle comprehensively, breaking through 24 tackles to Ireland's seven, and Kidney said he had not expected that level of superiority.

"We're not making any excuses. They won them (the collisions), they burst us and that is where we have to ask that question because would I have seen that coming? Any sign from training during the week? No.

"Once they went ahead we probably chased it a little bit. It isn't a case of slowing it down, but it's going to be difficult to break them down from your own half all the time, so that is where we need to play a smarter game. We've a few lads who need to do that.

"They (New Zealand) are a very good side," he added. "They're playing with a huge amount of confidence. When they brought in the six new faces, when you look at the background of what they have done, won four of the last U-20 World Cups, they were in this year's final again, that's a huge supply line that they have coming in.

"That's the depth that they have and that is why you need to get your structures right with your teams below. That's why it is good that our U-20s turned out to have a very good World Cup and came fifth having beaten the winners of it in the pool section.

"We'll take a look at that. We'll work to rectify it. It is hugely disappointing, embarrassing, all the words that you want to try and use."

Ireland hooker Rory Best said the players had let themselves down but dismissed any notion that they had brought a 'holiday mind-set' into the final game of their year-long season.

"Last week and the week before going into the games we were using it (long season) as a positive," said Best. "We were battle-hardened and I think it would be a bit rich after a stuffing like that if we turned around and used it as an excuse.

"In the last game of the season we should be mentally strong enough to go, 'right, let's lift it for one last 80 minutes here'. It's hard, the emotions are pretty raw at the minute, but we set our standards higher than that.

"Our management set the standards higher than that and we haven't come up to it, or haven't been consistent enough, especially this season."

Irish Independent

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