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2002 Experience Has Kidney In Good Stead

2002 Experience Has Kidney In Good Stead

Declan Kidney’s decision to leave Munster and take on the Ireland job was not an easy one to make, not least because of his emotional ties and history with the province. But he will put ‘past experience to good use’ in the next few weeks as he prepares for another Heineken Cup final and then the transition to being a national head coach.

Speaking at a midweek press conference in Douglas in Cork, Kidney reflected on his time with Munster and how, exactly six years ago, he was in a similar situation to now.

He can draw comparisions with 2002 when he led Munster into a Heineken Cup final before taking up a role as Ireland assistant coach.

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Asked how he will approach his final few weeks with Munster and his move into the Ireland set-up, he said: “What we need to do is put past experience to good use here. I was fortunate to have that experience in 2002 when, if you like, Niall O’Donovan and myself were double jobbing with Ireland.

“We knew coming up to the final that it was going to be our last game. We have learned from then that we just have to park that. It’s a big day for everybody involved, the Heineken Cup final, but it’s definitely not about me because I won’t be playing – that’s the one selection I can guarantee you!

“All we want is to be able to look at one another afterwards and know that we gave it everything and not let any subsidiary thing get in the way.

“I’d like to think we can put the experience of 2002 to good effect. Looking back on that (European final) you have to put your hands up and accept that Leicester were the better than us on the day.

“I don’t think it had an effect on us that day but you want to use that to ensure that it doesn’t have an effect this time as well.”

Munster complete their Magners League campaign this weekend at home to Glasgow Warriors but the province’s management and players are busy plotting the downfall of three-time European champions Toulouse on May 24.

Video analyst Jason Holland confirmed this week that he already has the players working on DVDs of Toulouse’s players and their recent games.

As the build-up continues to that mouth-watering clash at the Millennium Stadium, Kidney has hardly had time to draw breath with two big European games and four Magners League ties (three of them away) crammed into the space of a month. 

“It’s been a busy time over the last few weeks and a brilliant time. Just a few weeks ago, we went over to a top team like Gloucester trying to stay in the Heineken Cup.

“Then there was (Saracens in) Coventry, then we were fronting up for two games last week and this weekend Anthony Foley is going to captain Munster against Glasgow in the Magners League in his last home game,” he explained.

“So there’s a lot happening but that’s the nature of the job and you just love it.”

Asked to comment on some of the more memorable games of his two tenures with Munster – 1998 to 2002 and 2005 to this year – he added: “I’ve been very lucky in my career. I’ve worked with smashing people and the dressing room was always a special place to be after a lot of great occasions.

“You think back to the away quarter-final over in Stade Francais in 2002, Bordeaux in 2000 was obviously a great day. There just have been so many of them.

“Even the recent game against Ospreys, we made 14 changes from the previous game and came up with a 9-8 win. So I won’t single out any of them because all the players I’ve worked with have always given everything and hopefully we can continue to create that environment.”

To listen to Declan Kidney’s interview in full, please click here.