In his own words, Irish Rugby Football Union President John Lyons formally lifted the curtain on the new season on Thursday as he introduced Ireland’s new coaching staff at a press conference at Jury’s Hotel in Cork.
Speaking to those assembled, John Lyons said: “Members of the media, ladies and gentlemen, this is a happy day, I have to say, at the start of a new season and I want to welcome you all here, on behalf of the Irish Rugby Football Union, for the formal introduction of Ireland’s new team management.
“The IRFU is delighted to introduce this new team, seated at the top table and headed by Declan Kidney and Paul McNaughton, along with Gert Smal on the other side, Alan Gaffney and Les Kiss who you’ll all become very familiar with as we go through the season.
“I want to wish them well and assure them and everybody else that they have the full backing of the Irish Union, and in fairness, whatever facilities and resources are required, the Union will not be found wanting in demonstrating its endorsement of this management.
“I see today as formally lifting the curtain on the new season. It is going to be a challenging and exciting year in Irish rugby, right across the board.
“And I have no doubt, in my mind, that come next May or so at the end of the season, we’ll all be able to look back with satisfaction and pride in how we have gone about our business.”
Kicking coach Mark Tainton was absent from the press conference as he was attending a kicking practice session.
To listen to Thursday’s press conference in full, please click here.