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Saturday 25 October 2014

Ireland plant new seed

WOW! Did you see that?

It was like lying on a beach in Brazil when a beautiful woman walks by. This was a thing of beauty, something you haven't seen for some time.

The second tier world ranking for countries ranked fifth to eighth for England in 2015 was wrapped up before the hour mark as Ireland slayed Argentina 46-24 with a mesmeric, magnificent cocktail of aggression, intelligence and creativity.

There was an emphasis on out-half Jonathan Sexton taking the ball to the gain line and the supporting players changing angles on to the ball and using footwork to beat the first man up.

Did the coaching ticket finally release the players? Or did the players finally click into gear? "All our wives will tell us what to do. But, sometimes we're not too clear what they want out of us," regaled coach Declan Kidney.

"It is one thing to know how to do it, it is another to bring it into the intensity of a Test arena."

Captain Jamie Heaslip claimed he kept hearing Cian Healy saying 'pressure is for tyres' at the back of his head in the build-up to Saturday. A defeat could have meant all four tyres coming off Kidney's wagon.

Was there ever a moment this month when you wondered whether you would lead Ireland into the Six Nations?

"No. This team isn't about one person. It doesn't matter whether I am around or not.

"The only thing that matters is that this team does well. The only thing that ever concerned me when I was asked to do it was whether I could contribute to it. So no. No."

There was definitely a release of pressure. There was even a touch of the humour the Irish coach can so readily access when the mood takes him.

He doesn't have the luxury of long-term planning: "I don't at the moment, anyway," he said.

"You can't do that really. The financial model is the Six Nations. The pressure comes from that. That's what makes the money."

The simple remit of the Ireland coach is to keep patrons clicking through the gates at the Aviva Stadium. He cannot afford to build exclusively towards the 2015 World Cup.

"You are all the time trying to get a balance on that. The way I operate is that the (Irish Wolfhounds v English) Saxons in Galway the week before (the Six Nations) is a stepping stone, is a big part of that.

"There is a tour to America and Canada next June. It will be a hugely important part in that because we don't have the Churchill Cup like we did three or four years ago.

"We'll never be rich in resources. We need to make sure that we are wise enough to make sure we have two or three players in each position."

Kidney was quick to temper the typically over-optimistic nature of the Irish public. This was one game. It is too simplistic to hold out confidence that the squad can automatically take this form straight into the Six Nations. There are no guarantees.

"There is too much of a gap in it. It is a good feeling going into Christmas. It will probably go from being 'no-hopers' to 'having a chance' or something," he added.

Kidney has lived out the rollercoaster ride that is his life as the face of Irish rugby from the Hamilton humiliation to the Argentinian resurrection.

"This is a manic job, really. You just have to be off your head to do it. The highs and lows in it are just enormous," he stated.

The transformation from South Africa to Argentina was the result of a longer time together to build combinations and relationships, to put greater detail and intricacy into attack.

Leinster's Brian O'Driscoll, Sean O'Brien, Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald, Ulster's Stephen Ferris and Rory Best, and Munster's Paul O'Connell are also on their way back for the Six Nations.

Suddenly, Irish rugby is taking a turn for the better.

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