DECLAN KIDNEY SAYS the inexperienced players brought into his team for Saturday’s meeting with Fiji have earned their opportunity to show what they can do.
Ireland’s head coach named his starting XV for this weekend’s non-cap international at Thomond Park this afternoon and has gone with a new-look side which includes three uncapped players – Ulster’s Luke Marshall, Craig Gilroy and Paddy Jackson.
Conor Murray, Mike Ross and captain Jamie Heaslip are the sole survivors from Saturday’s defeat to South Africa.
Speaking at this afternoon’s press conference, Kidney said: ”We know that it will be a full test for us and it’s a vote of confidence in the fellas that we’ve picked.
“These lads who are playing have been training really well over the course of the last two and a half weeks and we feel they deserve their go.”
Ireland go into the game on the back of a 16-12 loss to the Springboks at the Aviva Stadium but when asked whether spirit in the camp might be low because of that, Kidney responded: “Nobody likes losing a match but the spirit is actually really good.
The lads will have a better answer to that than myself but I couldn’t be asking any more of them. There hasn’t been a second in training where they’ve slacked off the work. They’re enthusiasm is actually quite infectious.
“Training has been brilliant and the craic around the camp is the same as it always is. There are too many pros there who don’t want to be just playing matches and getting losses.”
The IRFU are offering free admittance into Thomond Park for children on the day in a bid to bring in a decent crowd and Kidney added that it is up to the players to give them something to cheer about.
“These are different times compared to three of four years ago when you could fill Croke Park. People have to be more sparing with their money and we understand that.
“It doesn’t matter whether it’s one or 26,000 at Thomond, it’s up to us to give them something to row in behind and that’s what we’ll try to do.”