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Ireland v England, Dublin, August 27
Kidney refuses to hit the panic button
ESPNscrum Staff
August 26, 2011

Ireland coach Declan Kidney insists his side's preparations for the Rugby World Cup are on course despite a hat-trick of defeats in their opening warm-up clashes.

Kidney's side entertain England in Dublin on Saturday looking to avoid a whitewash having seen their World Cup hopes dented by a defeat to Scotland and back-to-back losses to France. Kidney accepts the sequence of results has been poor but is adamant his plans for the side are beginning to fall into place.

"I'm disappointed we've lost the last three matches but I know we can get ourselves right," said Kidney. "We decided to have four warm up internationals because in the past it's taken us a while to get into our stride.

"I believe we'll get into our stride now, but there are a few bits of the jigsaw that must come together and that's what we're trying to achieve. I feel we're getting better every week and I expect the players to give everything because there's no other way to wear a green jersey. We're playing England in Dublin tomorrow, that's all the matters."

Ireland's performances have drawn strong criticism, particularly in the wake of the 26-22 defeat by France last Saturday. They were thrashed out of sight by Les Bleus, whatever the scoreline suggests, with their naive play in the backs the biggest source of complaint.

"When we don't win matches there will be criticism. That's part and parcel of it," said Kidney. "The fact there's so much interest in the Ireland team and so many people have opinions is great. That's what makes it what it is. We know where we are. It's been so busy there hasn't been much time for anything else other than getting ourselves right."

Ireland face England without centre Brian O'Driscoll and flanker Sean O'Brien. O'Driscoll suffered a 'stinger' to his shoulder against France and has been omitted as a precautionary measure with his participation in the World Cup opener against the United States on September 11 not in doubt.

A further source of anxiety is a knee injury incurred by European player of the year O'Brien in the second of the two defeats by France. The bulldozing O'Brien - undoubtedly Ireland's best performer since January - is likely to face the USA.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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