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Kidney In No Rush To Name Captain

Kidney In No Rush To Name Captain

While the final pieces in the Irish management jigsaw were put in place this week, new head coach Declan Kidney has yet to select a team captain for the season ahead. However, the distinct possibility remains that talismanic centre Brian O’Driscoll will continue in the captaincy role.

Brian O’Driscoll has been captaining his country ever since Keith Wood’s retirement at the end of the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

The Leinster star’s record-breaking reign as skipper has been a very productive one, with three Triple Crowns and notable wins over South Africa, Australia, France and England. But will Declan Kidney decide to start afresh and select a new man to lead Ireland? 

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“Brian and myself have been talking and taking a look at things. Come November we’ll take a good look at it and we’ll see how things are going,” said the new Ireland coach.

“At the moment, I think it’s important that he just gets a chance to concentrate on his own game because he’s been shouldering things for the last five years.

“We’ll see how things go. He’s done a very good job (as captain) – you don’t win three Triple Crowns and just throw that away too easily!

“At the same time, you want to give him a small bit of space. Without naming a captain (today)…it wouldn’t be usual anyway to name a captain at the start of a (coaching) set-up. We’ll just see how things go and give Brian a chance to enjoy his own rugby.”

Kidney said he will have no fear of blooding new, young players at Test level, if they are good enough and if it is the right match for them. He also observed that Ireland need to get away from relying on their handful of truly world class players.

“You have to see how younger players are going. Everybody likes to see fresh faces, everybody wants to see a win, it’s just like wanting your bread buttered with jam on both sides.

“What we want to try and do is not to have so much depending on one, two, three or four individuals.

“So to do that, you need to develop guys but there’s no point throwing a younger guy in and then ruining him, because he’s going to carry that baggage for the rest of his career.

“We’ll certainly be looking at every opportunity to try and give someone a go. Ninety percent of the work for this team is going to be done in the provinces and then seeing how the players go in the Heineken Cup matches, the Magners League matches and the few guys abroad.

“Let’s see how they go in those matches and if we think they’re of international standard and better than the guy next to them, then let’s pick them.

“At the same time, you have to have more than 15 people in your squad. No different to the provinces, we’ll be trying to develop our squad.

“If we have 26 or 27 guys in the country capable of playing international rugby, they’ll only get better by playing.”

Announced as the successor to Eddie O’Sullivan in May, Kidney has had quite a wait until his first string of training sessions with the Irish squad. A couple of days into this week’s training camp in Cork, how is he finding it?

“It’s been great really. It’s been a bit nerve wracking, just trying to get everything right and trying to get things off to a good start,” he admitted.

“The players have come in well. We invited 45 players in, so we have 40 of those in and they have all been working hard.

“We have been trying to get a balance between the provincial pre-season, which is everybody’s pre-season really because it has been a little bit shortened this year.

“We’ve been just trying to get a balance between the rugby and the conditional work.”