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Kidney Happy With Squad Mix

Kidney Happy With Squad Mix

With the 2011 Rugby World Cup edging ever closer, the balance being using a summer tour to blood players and achieving results on the pitch is a fine one. Ireland coach Declan Kidney gave his take as he announced his squad for next month’s trip to New Zealand and Australia.

Declan Kidney and his management team will bring a 33-man squad Down Under to face the might of New Zealand and Australia in two heavyweight Test matches, with additional encounters with the Barbarians and New Zealand Maori making it a busy June for Ireland.

As the Rugby World Cup looms large on the horizon, Kidney is obviously eager to test his squad depth and see how his players bounce back from losing their grip on the RBS 6 Nations and Triple Crown trophies.

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“I’ve been on tours before where you might only have two games, you’re bringing 30 lads and maybe six, seven or eight of them don’t get any pitch time,” explained the Ireland head coach, who has included three uncapped players in the touring party. 

“Having the four games is going to be an opportunity to give some guys some pitch time, be it as replacements or starters. We’ll just wait and see how they train.

“You’re not just going to hand out a green jersey to anybody – that would be showing disrespect to all the people who went before us.

“But at the same time, you want to be developing for the future – we’ve a World Cup 16 or 17 months away and we want to try and build up our squad for that too.”

Leinster centre Fergus McFadden and Ulster forward duo Chris Henry and Dan Tuohy are the three uncapped players, while fellow tourists Jonathan Sexton, Sean Cronin, John Muldoon and Kevin McLaughlin are still relatively inexperienced at Test level with just 11 caps between them.

Commenting on the selection process, Kidney said: “We tried to get the mix of experience and youth, guys coming through.

“We’ve the three uncapped players, and we have about another four lads who do not have a whole lot of game-time under their belts.

“Yet they are going to need experienced players around them, because when you’re playing the number one and three ranked teams in the world then you’re going to need all the experience you have.

“There’s no hiding place, you could get wildly exposed and anytime you have a green jersey on, you don’t want that to happen.”

McFadden, Henry and Tuohy have all featured for Ireland ‘A’, or the Ireland Wolfhounds as they are now known, in the past twelve months.

Tuohy, who played at Under-21 level with McFadden, Sexton and Cronin, has just completed an impressive first season with Ulster.

The 24-year-old lock/flanker bookended his 20-match campaign for Brian McLaughlin’s men with tries against the Ospreys and Connacht.

“Fergus and Chris went very well last year in the Churchill Cup. In Dan Tuohy’s case, he’s been going well for Ulster. We played him at number 6 for Ireland ‘A’ against Scotland ‘A’ at Ravenhill,” said Kidney.

“It’s going to be good to work with him. We haven’t had a whole lot of time working with Dan and we’re looking forward to doing so.”

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