IRELAND COACH DECLAN KIDNEY targeted a series win against world champions New Zealand after he named his squad for the June tour at the Aviva Stadium on Monday morning.
Three new caps were included in the tour squad and four further places are set to be filled after the Barbarians match at Gloucester next week.
Kidney believes that Ireland, ranked eight in the world, have nothing to lose when they take on an All Blacks side that won the World Cup last October.
He said, “We ask (New Zealand) to play with full-strength sides when they come here so we have to do the same.
“You don’t experiment against a side like New Zealand; you have to go for it.” Kidney added:
The objective is to win the series, first and foremost, and to work downwards from there. We know the record, we have never beaten New Zealand and to beat them would be a great achievement but it would be disrespect to the jersey not to go for (the series win).
The Heineken Cup boost
Kidney feels “proud” of the efforts of both Leinster and Ulster in the Heineken Cup Final on Saturday but he pointed out that the performance levels still needed to raise 15% for a tough international tour.
Speaking of Leinster’s win, he said, “What an occasion. It was the biggest crowd ever for a final and the boys went for each other full-throttle.” Kidney added:
It was one of the best finals ever in terms of the quality of the rugby played and you would have to be proud (as an Irish coach).
“I’ve been involved in that (provincial) level before and I know what it takes to win so it is a fantastic achievement.”
The Other Guys
Kidney named the ‘frontrunners’ to fill the spots currently reserved for A.N Other and its clones.
Brett Wilkinson of Connacht is favourite to take his place in the front row but must prove to management that he has fully recovered from a calf injury that curtailed his season.
Leo Cullen should step in in Paul O’Connell does not recover from his knee injury.
Isaac Boss is in pole position to tour his home country as scrum-half but Paul Marshall, who will feature against the Barbarians next week, is still in with a chance. Kidney added:
Chris Henry is the frontrunner for the back row. He is carrying niggles after an arduous season but he put in another strong shift (in the Heineken Cup Final) on Saturday.
Kidney reiterated that all involved in the Barbarians game would be considered as back-ups and mentioned the names Ronan Loughney, Paddy McAllister, David Kilcoyne and Jack McGrath as further options in the front row mix.