Brian O’Driscoll believes Declan Kidney is the right man to turn Ireland’s fortunes around and get them back on track after some deflating displays in the World Cup and Six Nations.
O’Driscoll has plenty of experience of Kidney’s coaching, having played under him with the Ireland Under-19s and Leinster as well during the Corkman’s stint as Ireland assistant coach between 2002 and 2004.
Commenting on Kidney’s appointment in a radio interview, the Leinster centre said: “I just think he’s a great man to put a big package together. I know from talking to the Munster lads he hasn’t doing as much coaching this year but he’s been co-ordinating everything, putting it all together.
“He just has this ability to motivate his players and get them best out of them.”
Kidney’s coaching style paid off back in 1998 when he guided the Irish Under-19s to a world title.
O’Driscoll recalled: “Certainly the 1998 Irish Under-19 team that went and won the World Cup, I don’t think we were the best players in the competition but we were given the belief that the further we went in the competition, there was more of a chance of us winning it and that sort of typifies what he’s all about.”
Although a large chunk of the Irish senior squad will have played under Kidney before, O’Driscoll was keen to point out that that familiarity will count for little as a new coach will always want to put his mark on a team.
“(Having a homegrown coach) will make the transition a hell of a lot easier. A lot of guys will know him and he’ll know a lot of guys.
“But having said that, people will still be starting with a clean slate. Reputations really won’t count for a huge amount when a new coach comes in.
“I’m sure he probably likes certain players from other provinces, so the players perceived as regulars in the team might have to fight that little bit more for their place in the side.”
An interim management team, heading by Connacht coach Michael Bradley, was put in place today for Ireland’s upcoming game against the Barbarians and the summer tour to New Zealand and Australia next month.
Although expectations will be low, O’Driscoll is in a positive frame of mind ahead of the tour.
“I suppose there’s no better time to go down to somewhere like New Zealand, the way things are panning out there.
“They seem to have a few injuries and a lot of guys seem to be coming up to the Northern Hemisphere and plying their trade with clubs here,” added Ireland’s record try scorer.
“There’ll be very little pressure on us coming off the back of the World Cup and the Six Nations we had, so we’ll just go out and give it a good crack.”