Friday 3 February 2023 Dublin: 12°C
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'We won't get over-excited': Coach and captain thankful for fine margins
Jamie Heaslip says the winning scoreline flattered Ireland, while Declan Kidney nodded to a game-plan that finally ‘clicked’.

BLACK SUITS, WHITE shirts and dark green ties.

Ireland’s head coach Declan Kidney and captain Jamie Heaslip would not have looked out of place at a funeral in the press conference that followed Ireland’s 46 -24 demolition of Argentina at the Aviva Stadium yesterday.

Indeed, aside from the number eight’s comical moustache, you could have been forgiven for thinking it was he who had been on the end of an embarrassing score-line rather than the track-suited Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe he passed in the hall on his way to the top table.

“I think it flattered us, to be honest.” The stand-in skipper said when asked if he was as surprised as the rest of us by Ireland clocking up close to a half century of points against a side ranked above us.

“You obviously go out and you go through all the different moves on the training paddock and sometimes they just click… Sometimes you get a lucky bounce aswell.”

It was a similar sentiment from Kidney, who began by praising the impact of the squad’s young contingent without wanting to single Craig Gilroy out for special praise.

“The enthusiasm of some of the lads coming into training, not just Craig , has been infectious. I think that payed off today, because we talked about having a go at it.

“It’s amazing when little things go your way.They did today and we managed to pick off a few good tries early on. That confidence then went through the team then it was about the second half, trying to front up for a full 80 minutes.”

“You never in your wildest dreams think that you’re going to get that amount of tries against an Argentinian side. But if things click then they’re well capable of doing that.

“Today was one of the good days. We didn’t get too despondent after South Africa; we won’t get overly excited after today. It just makes it a whole lot easier to go training the next time we’re together.”

Obviously, the mood was not entirely downcast. After all, that is the same Jamie Heaslip in the above picture with a grin from ear to ear.

This is no opportunistic snap-shot, however. There seemed to be something approaching a nervous self awareness about this smile. The captaincy has been taken manfully by Heaslip, but he is not yet entirely comfortable with the role and will be happy to defer to Leo Cullen in the approaching weeks.

“Obviously we’re quite happy.” Heaslip said with that grin after being asked to reconsider both his feelings on the result and the view that a ‘lucky bounce’ may have decided the game.

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“You saw that every time somebody scored he had five, 10 tries jumping over him. This is a group of players that really want to play for each other and really want to pull on that green jersey.

“You put in a lot of work to get over that try-line, so when you do it’s a massive release of pressure. Then you refocus and go again. That’s what I was really impressed with: I think we had four tries in the first 30 minutes, but people didn’t lose sight of what we had to do and the job at hand.

“At half time we were talking about how Wales were in a similar position and Argentina came back and beat them. We knew they had the capability to come back, we had to take our chances and that’s what we did.”

Cancel the funeral, there’s life in this Irish side yet.

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