herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Reality bites Kidney hard

It is a sign of the times we live in that Ireland coach Declan Kidney is widely reported as dissatisfied with the limited time he has been given with his players in order to prepare for the November international series.

"It is a worry that players can't train and, also, the fact that the time to prepare is so short," said a fussed Kidney.

"That is part and parcel of the job. You don't fuss about it. You just get on with it."

For so long Kidney has had it so good compared to England coach Martin Johnson, who has been in constant debate with Premiership clubs over the eligibility and release dates for a quickly changing national squad.

Wales boss Warren Gatland is another who has looked on in envy at the relatively luxurious gravity given to Ireland's hold over the players.



Privileged

Scotland coach Andy Robinson has to settle for watching his Scottish-based players run the risk of injury this weekend in the Magners League when Glasgow Warriors travel to The Scarlets tomorrow and Edinburgh visit Leinster on Saturday evening.

The Irish management has been living in a privileged system, wherein everything has revolved around the national interest, since the turn of the century; all the provinces suffer for the greater good of the country.

Welcome to the world of Joe Schmidt. The Leinster coach had to deal with a drip-feed of his frontline Ireland international players for the first month of the season. This was due to the pre-eminence of the strength and conditioning pre-season and the kid-glove treatment of Ireland's marquee players more than one year out from the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

After that, Schmidt was rationed players to the extent that he had to haul off Jamie Heaslip one hour into a Magners League nail-biter in Glasgow.



skirmish

Just last Saturday, with the local skirmish against Connacht in the melting pot, Leo Cullen was withdrawn from the action on the hour, scrum anchorman Mike Ross in the 65th minute and Heaslip in the 70th minute.

Presumably, this was a demand of the Player Welfare Programme. The questions have to be asked: what are the chances of Ireland winning the World Cup in New Zealand? Almost nil.

What are the odds on Ireland repeating the 2009 Grand Slam? Fair to slim.

Also, what are the chances of Irish provinces winning the Magners League and/or the Heineken Cup? Quite good.

The transfer of the pick of Leinster's home matches, against Munster in the Magners League at the beginning of this month and Clermont-Auvergne in the Heineken Cup on December 18, to The Aviva Stadium brings in a level of revenue that demands respect from the IRFU for Leinster Rugby.

Kidney is getting a taste of what Schmidt, Munster's Tony McGahan, Ulster Brian McLaughlin and Connacht's Eric Elwood have to deal with every week.

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