Italy v Ireland, Six Nations, Stadio Flaminio, February 5
Kidney backing strength in depth
February 2, 2011
Fergus McFadden progressed through the Ireland 'A' system © PA Photos
Ireland coach Declan Kidney hopes that their efforts to build a competitive squad of players will pay off in this year's Six Nations, beginning with Saturday's clash against Italy in Rome.
With 11 leading players out injured, including winger Tommy Bowe, No.8 Jamie Heaslip and flanker Stephen Ferris, the squad's depth has been sorely tested in recent weeks.
Despite this, there is only one new cap in the starting line-up to face the Azzurri, Leinster's Fergus McFadden, and Kidney believes that this is evidence that their policy since winning the Grand Slam in 2009 is beginning to pay off.
"When we beat Wales two seasons ago we always felt it was great, but we were the first to acknowledge we had an awful lot of luck with injuries," he said. "When you've been in the game for a few years you know that you need to build a squad.
"We're very fortunate that we have 19 or 20 of the players who played two years ago still with us. Now we have another crop of 20 guys to come through and we're starting to see the advantage of competing in the Churchill Cup.
"You never like to see fellas injured but other players have picked up experience and hopefully we're starting to benefit."
Ireland have been left with no option but to select a raw back three comprising debutant McFadden, fullback Luke Fitzgerald and winger Keith Earls, but Kidney takes heart from their attacking ability.
"With the way the laws have gone you want a back three who are willing to take on the opposition," he said. "What you're hoping is that they have the wisdom to pick the right moment to attack. I'm backing them as footballers to do that. I think they have that in them."
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