Kidney points to rustiness
February 6, 2010
Ronan O'Gara picked up an injury at Croke Park © Getty Images
Declan Kidney Gordon D'Arcy Jamie Heaslip Brian O'Driscoll Ronan O'Gara Johnny Sexton Andrew Trimble
Ireland coach Declan Kidney admitted that they showed signs of rustiness during the opening game of their defence of the Six Nations.
Ireland came out on top of a 29-11 scoreline against Italy at Croke Park, but after a decent opening half they failed to create anything in the second against a dogged Italian effort. And while Kidney and captain Brian O'Driscoll were glad to get off to a winning start, both admitted that the Irish need a lot of improvement if they are to test France in Paris next Saturday.
"We won, we managed to get a few points up and I think the squad ethic kicked in as well," Kidney said. "They're the pluses, I thought the scrum went ok, but obviously there's loads of things that we want to get better.
"We were bound to be a little bit rusty, but we'll take the win and move on. We need the passes to stick a bit more, we were close to line breaks a number of times but I think Italy defended very well as they always do.
"We could have won by a little bit more, but last year we scored two intercept tries but this year we didn't get any intercepts because Italy were playing a different way to what they did last year. They're a difficult side to break down. I think sometimes we can be a bit disrespectful in how we talk about them (Italy), but we've a lot of respect for them and it was a tough game."
Kidney opted not to have a training camp with the squad over Christmas, and he believes that decision meant that his side lacked cohesion.
"We decided to give the lads a break at Christmas and take a break because giving the players a break is just as important as any training we do and they had a tough twelve months last year," he added.
O'Driscoll agreed saying, "It's difficult to pick up where you left off in November. By the time we played South Africa we'd been together for a month."
"We've only been together for a fortnight and we didn't go into camp over Christmas so it's about trying to click again, gelling together and getting our combinations right. This will stand to us next week.
"At times we created good opportunities, but we didn't take them. We made a lot of half breaks, but the passes didn't go to hand. It maybe would have flattered us a bit, but it would hae been nice to score a few more tries."
Kidney expects both Paul O'Connell and Ronan O'Gara to recover quickly from the knocks that saw them forced off during the second half, while he says the performances of the replacements pleased him.
"Ronan got a bang on the knee, Paul got a bang on the eye and had blurred vision so it was prudent to get them off, but I'm sure they'll front up again on Monday when we get back and start looking at Paris," he said.
"There were a few lads who were in and around last year who are carrying knocks and that's what we're trying to build a squad for. We want guys to come in seamlessly, and I thought some of the guys that came on brought their own little bit of chemistry to it.
"There the little things we'll need as time goes on, because we're well analysed and are reading us more and we need to have different ways of breaking teams down. We didn't quite do it today, but we're on the way to doing it."
"The thirst for knowledge has seen coaches break away from the confines of rugby and look to America." Tom Hamilton on the two-way learning process
On Saturday, New Zealand face the USA in a match that has been 40 years in the making. Tom Hamilton finds the atmosphere building in Chicago
Most modern rugby players will not know the name Ray Williams but they should be eternally grateful to him, writes John Taylor
With the All Blacks playing the USA Eagles this weekend, Craig Dowd says rugby is ready to make a professional breakthrough Stateside