IRELAND COACH DECLAN Kidney has dismissed suggestions that the importance of Saturday’s Six Nations encounter with Scotland has been diminished, owing to the fact that both sides can no longer win the competition.
Despite the disappointing loss to Wales and the anti-climactic finish to last week’s game against France, Kidney vowed that his players would give their all, saying:
“The Six Nations is different to other competitions that you play in – it’s like playing in five cup finals. And any day you put on a green jersey is a huge day.”
He also believes the home crowd and the IRB rankings are other factors that will help inspire the team to perform on the day:
“We’re very aware of IRB ranking points and being ranked as high as possible for the World Cup. The ranking only really becomes important once every four years in terms of anything.
“And I think, more than anything, the fact that we’re playing at home. We just want to give the best performance possible and give the supporters something to get behind.”
As a result of Paul O’Connell’s recent injury, Donnacha Ryan has been drafted into the starting XV.
Kidney spoke of the Munster player’s pride at receiving the honour, and admitted he was somewhat unlucky to have only played a peripheral role in the tournament so far:
“I’ve obviously seen Donnacha come up through the ranks through the academies, so it’s a very proud day for him to get this start in the Six Nations and one he’s looking forward to. I think he was a bit unfortunate in the Six Nations to lose out. I think he’s been playing very well with Munster.”
He added: “In the balance of things for the team we had, I felt that Donncha O’Callaghan and Paul were a better combination, but every time that Donnacha Ryan came in, he’s had a good performance for us and it’s nice to see him getting a chance.
“It was gonna be impossible to keep Donnacha Ryan off the team all the team, so it’s just the way fortune has fallen for him.”
The game kicks off at 5pm this Saturday.