It was a pleasing first day at the office for Ireland coach Declan Kidney as he side ran in eight tries for a 55-0 GUINNESS Series 2008 success over Canada. It marked the first time Ireland had ‘nilled’ opposition since the 70-0 defeat of Georgia in a 1998 Rugby World Cup qualifier.
Satisfied with a five-try first half but disappointed that Ireland lulled in the third quarter, Declan Kidney was philosophical afterwards when reflecting on his first game in charge.
“It’s important that on the good days you enjoy them but you don’t get carried away because on the days that don’t go your way, you’d be disappointed but you can’t be too down on yourself,” he said.
“It’s about keeping a balance really. It’s brilliant to be involved. It’s a huge honour, the responsibility that goes with it, but it definitely isn’t about me.”
Kidney was keen to highlight the efforts of the younger players, including try-scoring debutant Keith Earls, in helping Ireland get over this first hurdle as they looked to secure a high seeding for next month’s Rugby World Cup draw.
“It will be harder (to select the team) but harder in a positive way,” he said, with GUINNESS man-of-the-match Stephen Ferris and two-try wingers Rob Kearney and Tommy Bowe amongst those to impress.
“One of the things we set out to do over the last three weeks was to build a panel. Those younger players have come into that and they took their opportunity well.
“But there’s a lot of fellas who didn’t get on to the pitch who are going well in training too.
“We’ll just review the video and see what the mix is going forward, but at least the size of the panel now is getting bigger, and when you have that competition for places it’s always good for players.
“With Keith Earls…the facts are that in his first cap, with his first touch, he gets his first try. That will live with him always and I’m delighted for him and his family that it worked out that way.”
Kidney welcomed the sort of selection headaches which will see the likes of Earls, Kearney, Geordan Murphy and Girvan Dempsey battling for the Ireland number 15 jersey for next Saturday’s clash with New Zealand.
“It increases the number of people looking for starting places.
“In some ways it makes it slightly more difficult, but difficult in a good way because you will have competition for places and that can allow you prepare better for the following Saturday.”
The Corkman readily admitted that Ireland have plenty to work on before the All Blacks game, explaining: “There is always a balance between what you would like to do, what the weather is like, what the opposition allows you to do and what’s the smart thing to do.
“We did that well in the first half. In the fourth quarter, once the replacements had got their first wind, we got a bit more coordinated.
“But that third quarter, there’s probably enough there to work on for the week.”