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Kidney Braces Ireland For ‘Massive Task’

Kidney Braces Ireland For ‘Massive Task’

Ireland head coach Declan Kidney was not getting carried away with Saturday’s result against Wales despite the uplifting nature of the performance from his squad.

Although Wales bounced back in the second half of the RBS 6 Nations opener with a three-try haul, the positives far outweighed the negatives as Declan Kidney reflected on a winning start to the Championship.

“We’ve had our bad days and we’ve had to take those on the chin but we’ll just take today as one of the good days,” said the Corkman afterwards.

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“But because of the nature of the competition we’ll enjoy it for half an hour and then get on for the next one eight days later.”

That the 30-22 victory came at the home of the reigning Grand Slam champions and with five Six Nations debutants in the Irish squad was all the more gratifying.

One of the newcomers, Simon Zebo, swooped for the opening try and there was also a sparkling try-scoring return from Brian O’Driscoll, a three-time Player of the Championship award winner.

The 34-year-old talisman missed last year’s tournament with a shoulder injury and only return for Leinster in early January after undergoing ankle surgery.

“Brian richly deserved it (the man-of-the-match award) and he led in the same way as he’s always been doing,” admitted Kidney.

“He will make up his own mind (about his playing future). I would not like to sway him one way over the other. The bottom line is you would love to have the guy around forever wouldn’t you?

“But if you look at the performance he put in today, that is not easy on the body. Huge credit to him, given the amount of game-time he has had, to come out and give such an international class performance like he did today.

“It is wrong to say it doesn’t surprise you, as normally you should not be able to pull out a performance like that with the amount of game-time he has under his belt. With Brian it is just a privilege to be working with him.”

Ireland’s rearguard action in a frenetic second half saw their tackle count rise to an incredible 176, with O’Driscoll, Craig Gilroy and Rob Kearney all producing try-saving hits.

Talking about the level of commitment shown by the players, Kidney added: “You can only coach so much. It’s only if they want to do it that they would do some of the stuff that they did out there.

“Systems are there to be put in place but in fairness if there was a hole to be plugged, the willingness of fellas to do that is colossal. Hopefully the reward is when they wake up in the morning and they’re sore, they’ll feel it was worth it.”

The eight-day turnaround before next Sunday’s clash with England at the Aviva Stadium affords extra time to patch up injuries. The Irish management have moved the team announcement back to Friday with Gordon D’Arcy, Mike Ross and Keith Earls among those nursing knocks.

Earls, who replaced D’Arcy in the centre, is the most serious concern. He hurt his shoulder late in the game and underwent a scan upon the squad’s return to Dublin and will see a specialist later this week.

Kidney said that facing England is ‘a massive task’ for his side with Stuart Lancaster’s men providing ‘a completely different challenge to Wales’.

“That’s the thing about this competition – you’d love to say we will just take the week off and go with the same plan again, but the same plan wouldn’t work,” said the Irish coach.

“We’ll have to train a bit but we’ll have to be really smart in what we do. We ask the players to do that on the pitch and we’re going to have to try and do it off the pitch as well.

“This 48 hours when they do absolutely nothing is vital. They’re in their compression skins and having their rubs, just trying to get the rubbish out of their systems. They’ll eat well and give themselves every chance to get fit for next Sunday.”