IRELAND COACH DECLAN KIDNEY has revealed that the excellent performances of a batch of young stars against Fiji has signalled a new direction for his team.
Speaking after Ireland defeated the Fijians 53-0 at Thomond Park, Kidney was keen to stay grounded but conceded that players like Luke Marshall and Craig Gilroy had put their hands up for selection against Argentina on Saturday.
“There’s certainly a few selection choices to be made alright, which is good,” said Kidney.
“You ask fellas to go out and seize their opportunities and they’ve done that. We have to now reflect on how they went, the type of game it was and what the best options are for next weekend.”
Kidney added, “It’s a new time for Irish rugby.
“There’s a whole new squad coming through and some fellas got their chance and showed that they want more of it.”
Practice makes perfect
The Irish camp have been preaching about the virtues of great training sessions for the past three weeks and the coach feels the solid preparations shone through against Fiji.
Kidney said, “That [enthusiasm in training] has been infectious and I think you saw some of the benefits.”
He added, “There are a lot of aspects [about the win] that I would be pleased with. Keeping it zero on the opposition’s scoreboard. The first half and our last quarter was good.
“To see the guys go out there and show why they’ve been selected, and to go out and play that way. It was refreshing.”
Another Marshall in the mix
For Irish supporters that may not get to see Ulster play week-in week-out, Luke Marshall proved a pleasant surprise and capped of a fine outing with the eighth and final try of the match.
Gordon D’Arcy has been the man in possession of the number 12 jersey, consistently, since 2006 but Marshall seized the attacking impetus at Thomond and was at the heart of most of Ireland’s best moves.
Kidney said, “I think Luke stepped up really well.” He added:
When you look at it, Luke, Craig, Denis [Hurley] and other fellas have to fight hard to get their Heineken Cup places. To come from that to doing what they done here, all credit to them. He looked good and comfortable out there and took on responsibility.
“If you look at his first punt of the game – he got the ball inside his 22 and it landed inside their 22 against a slight breeze. From the very first go he looked very comfortable in his surroundings.”
“That’s a good measure of a young man and, you know, he wants more of it.”
Argentina arrive in Dublin later today and Kidney will be quick to ground his buzzing troop and focus them on what promises to be a gritty encounter at the Aviva.
“It’s all about keeping that balance,” he said. “We didn’t go too far down last week and we’re not going to go too far up this week.
“It certainly makes going to work easier on Monday when you’ve got a win.”