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Kidney: No Decision On Captain Yet

Kidney: No Decision On Captain Yet

With Brian O’Driscoll and Rory Best both ruled out through injury and Paul O’Connell battling a back problem, Ireland could enter the GUINNESS Series next week with a new captain.

Head coach Declan Kidney was asked about a decision on the likely captain just hours after learning of Brian O’Driscoll and Rory Best’s unavailability for the November games against South Africa, Fiji and Argentina.

“We’ll assess all that now. Paul (O’Connell) isn’t training today, he has his own niggles with his back. He was hoping to get a bit of pitch-time this weekend,” he said.

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“Captain can be an onerous position. We’ll let him recover first, we’ll look after the person first and then see what’s right for the team.”

Of the other options in the squad, the 50-times capped Jamie Heaslip has led Leinster on a number of occasions and the likes of Ronan O’Gara, Jonathan Sexton and Donncha O’Callaghan also boast plenty of leadership qualities.

Meanwhile, the recently-arrived Michael Bent has been getting used to his new surroundings having been drafted straight into Ireland’s GUINNESS Series squad.

The Irish-qualified prop, whose maternal grandmother grew up in Rathmines in Dublin, is hoping to make his Leinster debut against the Ospreys this weekend before being considered for the game against the Springboks.

Explaining the 26-year-old’s immediate call-up for international duty, Ireland team manager Michael Kearney said: “Michael was originally meant to arrive on Wednesday but we fast-tracked it because of a number of injury concerns.

“He’s with us Monday and Tuesday, he’ll work with Leinster on Wednesday, come back to Carton House (our training base) Thursday and Friday and then a decision will be taken on whether he’ll have an involvement in Leinster’s game on Sunday.

“For us, he could play in one or two or all three games in November. It depends on what happens in the next week or two. Declan (Fitzpatrick) has just returned from injury and we’re keeping our options open.”

Tighthead prop Bent is match fit having made 10 starts for Taranaki in the ITM Cup and he also made five Super 15 appearances for the Hurricanes earlier in the summer.

Asked about Bent’s ‘whirlwind’ selection, Kidney commented: “It’s our job to assemble the best Irish-qualified group together. In fairness to Leinster, they did a lot of groundwork in finding him.

“With the game-time the rest of the tighthead props have around the place, he’s probably one of the most qualified in terms of being match fit.”

With Bent and Leinster hooker Richardt Strauss, who now qualifies for Ireland on residency grounds, both added to the panel, Kidney was pressed on whether the current rules on selecting foreign-born players devalue the international game in any way.

“No, it doesn’t devalue it. They are the rules. If you look at Australia and New Zealand, they’ve been doing it for years. Look at the English squad,” he remarked.

“Society has changed in Ireland as well too. He (Bent) qualifies as much as anyone else does and other guys have come through in the past.

“If you look at the job that Andy Ward and Kurt McQuilkin have done in the past for us. Kurt, both on and off the pitch as a development officer, has been a magnificent servant for Ireland and these fellas will be the same going forward.”

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