Kidney confident Ireland can rediscover form
March 2, 2013
Ireland caoch Declan Kidney feels his side can end the Six Nations by beating France and Italy © Getty Images
Ireland coach Declan Kidney sees no reason why Ireland cannot end the Six Nations on a high with wins over France and Italy.
Since Brian O'Driscoll inspired Ireland to a barnstorming start to the Championship in which they were 30-0 ahead against Wales in Cardiff early in the second-half, their form has slumped dramatically. First they shipped 22 points to Wales as the holders threatened a remarkable comeback and then their ill-discipline cost them dear as England left Dublin with a 12-6 win.
The latest ignominy came as they contrived to lose 12-8 to Scotland at Murrayfield despite dominating possession and territory. Again Ireland's lack of discipline was to blame and Greig Laidlaw took advantage with four penalties that won the match. It is a problem that Kidney admits he is well aware of, but that the team needs the collective belief to overcome it.
"We probably haven't taken the opportunities that have come our way in the last 20 minutes," Kidney told The Irish Independent. "That's one of the things that is under our control. There are other things I know we can do to get better. I'll work with the people involved to get that right but also we have to look at our discipline in the last 20 minutes in particular because most of the points that we've given away have been penalties.
"This season we've conceded four tries, including November, and three of those were when we had a man in the bin. So when we've 15 fellows on the pitch, we've only conceded one try. You have to build that belief into players and, if you can believe in that, then you don't give away those penalties. So that will be one of the themes of the last 20 minutes."
Since winning the Grand Slam in his first season in charge of Ireland in 2009, the former Munster coach has tried to expand Ireland's style to an open, running style, rather than the territorial, set-piece game that he inherited.
There have been times when it has worked spectacularly well, but this season it has been disrupted by injuries to the likes of Jonathan Sexton, Simon Zebo and Gordon D'Arcy, though this in turn has opened the door to youngsters Paddy Jackson and Luke Marshall, who Kidney believes have a big part to play in the team's future.
"The trouble is when you are that attack-orientated, you leave yourself open to a bit more criticism that we're just not playing that pressure game totally and we need to trust in our defence," he said. "We're not too far away. When we play against France, if they get a win over what will be a very good French team, they'll blossom. Then we'll have those injured lads coming back in and we'll have a real strong unit."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton
Cards, kicks, slips and scores: It's The Week in Pictures, the finest snaps from the last seven days of rugby