THE QUESTIONS ABOUT Declan Kidney’s future as Ireland coach been lingering for 18 months but were asked on national television for the first time yesterday.
The coach stated that it was his job to focus on the next game and McNamara, mercifully for the Cork man, left it at that.
When TheScore.ie asked Kidney, following Ireland’s 60-0 humiliation in New Zealand last summer, if he was the man to lead Ireland to trophy success, he bristled before responding:
“It’s an honour to coach your country. I’ve been asked to coach them and I will continue to coach them.”
Kidney is contracted to to continue in his honoured role until the end of Ireland’s summer tour to North America but, with the Six Nations a forlorn dot in the distance, he would do his country a better service by stepping aside after the Six Nations.
14 points have been scored in 160 minutes in two defeats to England and Scotland. The Irish Independent reported in the lead-up to the England game that Kidney would be given a contract extension if he could mastermind a home win over Stuart Lancaster’s men.
The very idea seems whimsical now.
The Grand Slam win in 2009 and his services to Irish rugby should allow the former Munster coach to remain in the helm until after the Six Nations finale, away to Italy, in Rome.
Joe Schmidt and Conor O’Shea, respective coaches of Leinster and Harlequins, would be the two candidates at the top of Irish rugby supporter’s wishlists. Mark McCall is also doing a fine job as coach at Saracens.
Sizeable pay and compensation fees would have to be stumped up by the IRFU.
Whoever the new coach is, they would benefit more by overseeing a young Irish squad taking on the USA and Canada this summer rather than a man who will be assessing the next stage of his career.
Kidney deserves the chance to go out on a high against France and Italy but it is then time to move on.
Rob Kearney reflects on Ireland’s latest defeat. (Lynne Cameron/PA Wire.)
Truth be told
Jamie Heaslip kept his post-match buoyancy in check for the first time after the devastating loss at Murrayfield but still managed to claim that Ireland were in ‘a good but mixed place’.
That comment sums up the indecisiveness that dogged the Irish performance in Edinburgh. Paddy Jackson had slightly more than zero trust placed in his kicking abilities in the first half as penalties were kicked for lineouts that, more often than not, were lost.
Donncha O’Callaghan called the decision to shift Brian O’Driscoll out of the Irish captaincy as “marketing” and one moment late in the game left no-one in doubt as to who was calling the shots.
Ireland were awarded a penalty just outside the Scottish 22 with three minutes on the clock. Jamie Heaslip, the current captain, was absent from the decision-making process that saw O’Gara kick for the line and an Irish lineout that was won but did not lead to a score. O’Driscoll called the shots on the play.
The selection of Jackson was merited, especially after Ronan O’Gara’s ill-fated cameo, but he has not kicked regularly for Ulster ever since Ruan Pienaar returned from international duty with the Springboks.
It makes the omission of Fergus McFadden, a reliable place kicker and a versatile back, from the matchday 23 all the more glaring.
Perhaps McFadden can get the break he deserves under a new coach this summer while the likes of Cian Healy and Rob Kearney are shelving Irish woes and focusing on winning a Lions series in Australia.