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'We’ve got a job to do' - Kidney pushing troops beyond Paris

Ireland’s coach is disappointed for short-changed supporters who wanted to see Ireland play in Paris but now insists the team is focused solely on Italy.

Declan Kidney and manager Michael Kearney field questions at Carton House yesterday.
Declan Kidney and manager Michael Kearney field questions at Carton House yesterday.
Image: ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

DECLAN KIDNEY WAS left looking at two sides of the coin yesterday.

Heads: The team is looking forward to ‘getting on with it’ against Italy in nine days time.

Tails: Supporters are the ones left in the lurch with a Sunday afternoon kick-off set for the re-scheduled game in Paris.

“From a supporters point of view I’m really disappointed,” Kidney told his press briefing at Carton House yesterday.

“The’ve already forked out to go over (to Paris) on a Saturday night, and that was never going to be a day trip with a nine o’clock kick off.”
“I’m not sure how they’ll manage it – four o’clock on a Sunday. It’s really awkward isn’t it, can you afford to go for a whole weekend? I doubt it in these times.”
His obvious sympathy for those who had travelled was reluctantly put to one side as he had to move his team forward out of the debacle.

And that included getting some non-playing members of his squad some game time in the RaboDirect Pro12 this weekend. Players like Ronan O’Gara, Peter O’Mahoney and Donnacha Ryan who will travel with their province to Treviso this weekend.

Despite having four consecutive weeks of gruelling test rugby ahead, Kidney was happy to let players regain some match fitness in the lead up to Italy’s visit to the Aviva – a fixture, Kidney says, Ireland will not be looking beyond.

“It’s a worn cliché, but time has shown that if you’re thinking about any other match, if you don’t deal with what’s in front of you, then you’re not going to have a good day.”

Kidney cited the feisty performance of Jacques Brunel’s charges in the opening games of the tournament as reason enough to worry.

He also added Ireland’s own close encounters, including two occasions when late O’Gara scores snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, last year and also in the Ravenhill warm-up for the 2007 World Cup.

“I don’t see the Italian match as an extra game before we play France. I see Italy as a complete challenge in itself.” Said Kidney, talking up the challenge from the Azzuri as too strong to view merely as a chance to build momentum.

The coach did, however, point to the extra time in camp together as one factor which could prove crucial.

Something to be proud of

Kidney is renowned for being able to say very little with a lot of words: but behind the clichés - ‘one game at a time’, ‘the glass is half full’ and the two sides of the coin – there is a consistent steely message being sent out:

“There’s a whole load of things that I could moan about in terms of our preparation, but there’s people in Ireland in a lot worse situations. We have matches to play, we’ve a bit more preparation time. Yes, sure we’ve missed out on a game, but let’s just get on with our preparation – we’ve got a job to do.”

“It’s important to give the supporters something to be proud of when we go out on the pitch and that’s what we aim to be doing.”

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Sean Farrell

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