Kidney defiant despite mounting injuries
February 11, 2013
Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton injured his hamstring against England © PA Photos
Declan Kidney refused to surrender the Six Nations title race even though Ireland amassed an alarming injury list in Sunday's 12-6 defeat by England.
Wing Simon Zebo will miss the remainder for the championship with a broken foot, while fly-half Jonathan Sexton is a serious doubt for the next assignment against Scotland after tearing his hamstring.
Zebo fractured his fifth metatarsal in his right foot and underwent surgery on the injury on Monday with an expected 8-10 week recovery period. Meanwhile second-row Mike McCarthy is a doubt for the Scotland clash as he contends with a strain to his medial ligament in his right knee while Brian O'Driscoll (ankle) and Donnacha Ryan (back) will see specialists this week.
Rob Kearney is recovering well from a dead leg and Sean O'Brien is nursing a tight hamstring. Adding to their woes is Cian Healy's vicious stamp on the ankle of England prop Dan Cole. The prop has been cited and could be banned.
Ireland will welcome the first break in the championship as an opportunity to nurse their wounded and regroup before the trip to Edinburgh on February 25.
The error-strewn defeat by England has deflated a squad that was buoyant after the opening-day victory over Wales, but Kidney reminded his player they can still win the Six Nations.
"This gives England a bit of daylight with the other five sides on two points each with three matches to play," Kidney said. "We're extremely disappointed because that wasn't the result we wanted. Let's see what France come up with at Twickenham. England have to go to Cardiff too.
"There's still a hell of a lot to play for. What we have now are three more opportunities to get three wins. Let's get to eight points and see where we are at the end of it. The Grand Slam is a wonderful thing to win, but first and foremost you play for the championship and we're still well in for that."
Ireland's only route back into contention is if England lose in their remaining fixtures against France, Italy and Wales. On Sunday's evidence that is unlikely as England showed composure and accuracy amid a stormy encounter at the Aviva Stadium to remain the only team in contention for a Grand Slam.
Once Ronan O'Gara - who replaced Sexton - had drawn Ireland level with two penalties, Owen Farrell added two more to his earlier brace to push England clear in well-orchestrated finish by the visitors. Time and again any Irish momentum was halted by unforced errors and even the wet conditions failed to account for the number of handling mistakes they made.
"I don't want to blame the conditions because both teams played in them," captain Jamie Heaslip said. "There were a lot of knock ons and unforced errors. I don't know what caused all the errors. It was frustrating and we constantly tried to regroup and go again. England played a good pressure game.
"There were a lot of sore guys in the changing room, particularly because of the hits they took but also because they lost in a green jersey at home."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Jim Mallinder and Justin Burnell were sat on the same top table, but in different circumstances. Tom Hamilton reports on the Aviva Premiership season launch
Tom Hamilton reports back from the launch of the Guinness PRO12 where there is a renewed sense of optimism with all of the off-field changes to the league
So much for the great Australian revival, writes Greg Growden. It now has the potential of going off the rails after the capitulation at Eden Park
The latest Week in Pictures takes in photographs from the Rugby Championship, the Top 14 and the southern hemisphere domestic scene