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Dublin: 13 °C Sunday 9 August, 2020
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Change up: Ireland to roll out new style of play for Six Nations

Ireland will keep the ball in hand more as they seek to forge a single clear Irish rugby identity.

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

WHEN DECLAN KIDNEY begins Ireland’s pre-tournament training camp in Limerick today he will be focused on fine tuning a new style of play for the country.

Whether under Kidney or his predecessor, Eddie O’Sullivan, Ireland have often been criticised for being one-dimensional; unable to enforce an effective plan B if they encountered a team with a solution to the many green problems.

In Dublin yesterday Jamie Heaslip and Gordon D’Arcy expanded on the need for the international squad to change tack and revealed that their mid-winter sessions in Carton House helped lay the framework for that new style.

“We met at Christmas and tinkered with the game plan a little bit” said Heaslip, before elaborating, “I think we’re just trying to vary the game a little bit, I suppose, and carry and get the ball in hands a little bit more.”

“The clubs are playing a lot of very good attacking rugby and the defences of all the clubs are very strong. The defensive side isn’t of concern and neither is the the attacking, but we just want to expand on it.”

Quizzed on the same issue, D’Arcy spoke of the new style being more about a single clear vision rather than a mish-mash of provincial styles:

“There’s a need to find an Irish way of playing rugby and that’s the way we’re going to be a little bit more focused on. The three (leading) provinces all play a very different brand so we need to have an Irish identity, an Irish sense of how we’re going to play the game so that the players don’t go back to type if the real pressure comes on.”

“That’s what we’re looking at now, ironing out a few ‘what ifs’ because clarity in rugby makes it an awful lot easier to play and if  everybody’s 100% sure as to exactly what we’re doing – not that there was confusion beforehand – but we are changing things so it’s all about clarity now.”

Asked whether Ireland have been too predictable in the past, D’Arcy added, ”Yeah I think so, maybe that was one of the reasons we didn’t play as well in the Wales game.”

However the 63 times capped D’Arcy did add that, with such strong focus from video analysis on the game, every team in the world will be found out if they don’t refresh the page every so often.

The much decorated centre also pointed out that you can go too far with change, as Marc Lievremont found to his cost, the key is being able to balance out all your strengths and that will be Kidney’s task over the coming months.

Update: Zebo gets the nod for Wolfhounds with Fitzgerald still struggling
Upbeat: Heaslip the embodiment of current high spirit in Irish rugby

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Sean Farrell

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