Saturday 16 December 2017

Kidney: Leinster run last May inspires Irish

IRELAND coach Declan Kidney has drawn a strong comparison between Leinster's Heineken Cup and Magners League end games last season and Ireland's four straight Six Nations matches in the weeks ahead.

"Leinster played a Heineken semi-final, a Magners semi-final, the final of the Heineken and the final of the Magners. This is really why you get into it," Kidney said.

"In terms of World Cups, you need to be able to manage this from the last pool match to the quarter-final, semi-final and final. You can make more of it than it actually is. Because it is different doesn't mean it is an enormous hassle."

Kidney had the time to consider what needs to be put right and how to do that from the opening-weekend defeat to Wales in Dublin.

Unsurprisingly, he has chosen to leave every stone unturned in relying on the same opinion he had for the match that never was against France in Paris as he does for the hometown encounter with Italy.

There was no logical argument for change. It would have run contrary to fair practice as Paul O'Connell will lead out Ireland against the Azzurri at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.


"We had a good, long discussion about it. We felt this team was obviously good enough to play France. It wasn't a case of let's go again. We did look at permutations," added Kidney.

Surely, the only areas of contest could have been at fly-half and lock, with Ronan O'Gara and Donnacha Ryan giving way once again to Jonathan Sexton and Donncha O'Callaghan respectively.

"As all teams go on in the tournament, they get longer time together. Italy will have that extra game under their belts," said the coach.

"I have always said you learn more from defeat. We learned our lessons going onto the French game and we have looked to refine those."

Ireland: R Kearney; T Bowe, K Earls, G D'Arcy, A Trimble; J Sexton, C Murray; C Healy, R Best, M Ross, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell (capt), S Ferris, S O'Brien, J Heaslip. Replacements: S Cronin, T Court, D Ryan, P O'Mahony; E Reddan, R O'Gara, F McFadden.

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