| 5.1°C Dublin

McFadden backs Ireland to kick on with young spine

FERGUS McFADDEN insists the rapid speed of change in the Ireland squad should be welcomed as the natural evolution of a team.

A side that for so many years picked itself has experienced unprecedented upheaval, starting last autumn and escalating throughout the Six Nations, with the glut of injuries forcing much of the transformation.

But major selection calls such as Jamie Heaslip replacing Brian O'Driscoll as captain for the championship and the demotion of Ronan O'Gara to fourth-choice fly-half, seemingly ending his Test career, have also played a role.

McFadden, who has replaced groin-injury victim Craig Gilroy on the right wing for tomorrow's match against France, is among those hoping to make his mark in the new era.

"Over the last four or five years there has been a bit of a clean-out due to players retiring through injury or some guys not playing to the same level that they were for years," the 26-year-old said.



"That's just the nature of it and it's a good thing that there is now a young spine to the team that can kick on.

"The Scotland game was disappointing, but had our passes gone to hand we could have beaten them pretty comfortably.

"Our championship has had its ups and downs. The way that the Six Nations has panned out over the last few years, teams have been getting stronger and stronger.

"Italy beating France in the first game summed up how far they've come and showed there are no easy games.

"Injuries happen so you just have to get on with it, but thankfully we have strength in depth in Irish rugby at the moment."

McFadden has been forced to wait patiently to win his 17th cap and is eager to prove to head coach Declan Kidney that he has been underused since making his debut two years ago.



"It's a long championship and I knew that I just needed to bide my time," said McFadden, who won his last cap against Argentina in the autumn.

"Now my chance has come in a big game and I need to show that maybe I should have been there from the start.

"I like to think that I bring a bit more to the equation than place kicking.

"Paddy (Jackson) is the first-choice kicker and we have full confidence in him.

"If I'm called upon to kick I'm more than confident to do it, but as it stands Paddy is kicking and the team is very confident about that."