Kidney: Wallabies game is the big one
September 14, 2011
Kidney is confident Ireland can overcome Australia on Saturday © Getty Images
Head coach Declan Kidney insists the greatest challenge facing Ireland ahead of their crucial World Cup group clash with Australia is diffusing the team's enthusiasm.
Eden Park will host Pool C's most eagerly awaited fixture on Saturday when Ireland attempt to place one foot in the quarter-finals by beating the Tri Nations champions. Recent form means it will require something rarely seen from Ireland over the past 12 months to stun the 1/5 favourites, but Kidney is convinced they can deliver.
"This is grand isn't it? It's what we're in this sport for," Kidney said. "On Saturday we'll be playing Australia in the World Cup for the fifth time. They're the team in our group seeded above us.
"This is the one we are really looking forward to. This is the one there's no problem getting yourself ready for. You have to back yourself and back your belief. There is the big performance we need in this team, we just have to make sure we don't force it out of ourselves.
"I know from the way the lads are training, the way they're going about their business and the way they're preparing that the challenge is to hold them back. There's no sense of having to push these fellas on. There's a real keenness to get on with it."
Victory over Australia would give Ireland clear sight of the knockout stages with Russia and Italy then to be negotiated to ensure top spot. The stakes are high and Kidney admits keeping his players fresh for the 8.30pm kick- off, local time, is critical.
"The match is three and a half days away because it's a late kick-off so we must make sure we don't use up all of our energy before the game begins," he said. "Experience helps us with that and there was also the benefit of the France game we had in Bordeaux last month.
"It was an away game and a late kick-off. None of the players will tell you that they fancy late kick-offs. That's the difference between our RaboDirect PRO12 and the Aviva Premiership. We're inclined to play our matches on a Friday or Saturday night.
"When you're flying home at 3am that puts demands on the body. The 3.30pm kick-offs are easy. We don't play a whole lot of matches at 8.30pm, but because of the domestic league and the games we have at 7.30pm the lads are well used to it."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"If England flounder in the next World Cup the knives will be out - six-year contract or not." Tom Hamilton on the new contract for the England coaches
With the deadline for World Cup ticket applications now over, Tom May outlines his hopes, gripes and wishes for next year's global gathering
Floundering Leicester, exquisite Exeter and two old England players tearing up trees - it's the Monday Maul
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship and all the domestic action from the northern hemisphere