THE FOLLOWING IS an excerpt from a media scrum with Ireland coach Declan Kidney:
Reporter: Two wins in the last 10. Are you feeling the pressure personally?
DK: Are you talking about Argentina?
R: The Argentina game, yeah.
DK: I know they’ve only had two wins in their last 10 games but they’re a much better side than their results have shown.
R: No, sorry, I’m talking about Ireland. Two wins from the last 10.
DK: Is it?
Once the mix-up was resolved Kidney spoke of making game-on-game improvements and tough games. He added:
Everybody knows now that this is a completely different squad and everyone is learning and will get better.
“These are a lot of young players coming through and I can’t ask any more of them at the moment.”
Close to call
For just about every international rugby match there are designated favourites and underdogs but this match falls through the cracks.
Both sides have won twice, drawn once and lost seven in their last 10 outings and have failed to solve the wrecking ball questions posed by the All Blacks.
They sit less than one ranking point away from each other but Argentina’s win over Wales secured their second-tier status ahead of the World Cup 2015 draw next month.
Asked to separate the playing styles of the two countries, Kidney pauses for a moment before responding.
He told TheScore.ie, “That’s quite difficult really. The physicality is pretty much the same. They go about their job a little bit differently.” Kidney added:
The South Africans were probably a little bit loose in the first half. I don’t see the Argentineans being the same, they are well coordinated and will be a bit upset about how they got on last week against France.
“They’ll come out and look to finish off their season against us with a win.”
Kidney also highlights the Pumas danger in loose-field play and exploiting turnover ball, noting they are superior in that department to the Springboks.
Closing out a game
Kidney laments the 20 minute period either side of half-time that cost them the match against South Africa and concedes there was much debate about his team for tomorrow’s game.
He added, “We’d come to the conclusion that the team that played against South Africa did well for a good part of it. That will stand to them and with Craig Gilroy coming in, that will add to it.”
It would be brash, says Kidney, to say Ireland are better than Argentina in one particular area.
“Test rugby is all about going out there and seeing what holes you can pick in the opposition on the day that’s in it,” he said.
Kidney on Gilroy: ‘A winger’s job is usually to finish the good work of the 14 men inside him.’ (©INPHO/Morgan Treacy)
Ireland have led at half-time on four occasions only to lose [Wales, France, New Zealand and South Africa] since March and Kidney will be hoping to arrest that trend if his team lead at the break tomorrow afternoon.
“A lot of it is down to experience,” he said. “In Test matches there will be four or five phases in a game where the opposition are going to pick up their play or play a different type of game.
“You saw against South Africa that we were playing ok until half-time, then they came out with a different type of mauling game and we didn’t adapt to it as much as we needed to on the pitch.
“It’s only experience that will give you that.”
We will leave you with some of Declan Kidney’s finest responses from our chat yesterday. Bring on the Six Nations.
On the international novices: “We’ve a lot of new guys dipping their toes in the water of Test rugby.”
The five-match losing streak: “When we’ve been unbeaten as a group, we haven’t lorded on about that and we’re not going to lord on about it now.”
Are you worried about Gilroy’s defensive game? “If you want to nitpick on any player, the person born without faults hasn’t been born yet. Every player has their own faults, if you want to nitpick, but I think he has played very well and deserves his place.”