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Kidney Explains Tight Calls

Kidney Explains Tight Calls

Ireland coach Declan Kidney has a number of difficult decisions to make when selecting his starting line-up for Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations encounter with France at Croke Park.

Declan Kidney revealed his team selection for the France game at the team hotel in Limerick on Tuesday and afterwards IrishRugby.ie caught up with him to find out more about those tight calls.

Two of them came in the pack where Jerry Flannery got the nod to start at hooker, ahead of Rory Best, and Jamie Heaslip was preferred to Denis Leamy at number 8.

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Discussing Ireland’s hooking options, Kidney said: “We’re very lucky in that position in that we’ve three good hookers.

“Bernard (Jackman) made it slightly easier in that he wasn’t available, but the other two lads (Jerry Flannery and Rory Best) have been going really well.

“It’ll be a good fix for us going into this week’s match. But let’s see what happens then the following week. It’s just a situation where we’re lucky we have the two of them.”

Back row rivals Heaslip and Leamy have been performing well for Leinster and Munster respectively in recent outings and Kidney acknowledged that Leamy’s impressive recovery from a knee injury has helped keep Heaslip on his toes.

“Denis has come back in and because he’s got the few games behind him, he’s been going well. That’s the good thing about having him on the bench as well.

“You can see a bit of an extra spark in training since he’s come back in. Everybody wants a little bit of competition for their place.

“All the good players then respond to that, you can see that in Jamie. He probably smelt that coming up to the Leinster-Edinburgh game and he did have a very good game against Edinburgh.

“Denis had a very good game against Montauban and went well against Sale the previous week.

Yeah, it is very tight but it’s just combinations. It’s more than a 15-man game now.

“They’ve (the back row unit) been working together for a while so I just left them alone. It’s very hard to try and justify some reason you just have a feel for.”

A number of players in the extended Six Nations panel have failed to gain places in either the senior or ‘A’ matchday squads this week and Kidney explained the reasoning behind this.

“The ‘A’ squad we tried getting a mix of not too many younger fellas but trying to bring a few fellas through,” he said. 

“There’s a few fellas like Girvan (Dempsey), Shane Horgan and Alan Quinlan. They weren’t included in the ‘A’ game, they’ve been there.

“If we felt we needed to give them a game, there’s another ‘A’ game coming up. We’re trying to develop a squad and we feel the ‘A’ team is an integral part of that.

“We’ve also had a few lads training this week with the senior squad, like Devin Toner and Ian Keatley, just to give them some experience.”

Click here to listen to the team announcement press conference in full.