Belfast Telegraph

Friday 31 October 2014

Rugby World Cup: Unhappy returns as birthday boys World falls apart

Luke Fitzgerald

Tomas O’Leary and Luke Fitzgerald will be blowing out this year’s birthday candles at home after Ireland coach Declan Kidney extinguished their World Cup hopes.

Following sub-standard performances by the pair, Kidney has wielded the axe, with his swipe killing off the hopes of out of form 2009 Grand Slam winning scrum-half O’Leary and back Fitzgerald.

Ironically O’Leary will be 28 on World Cup final day , October 22, while Fitzgerald turns 24 two days after Ireland’s opening Pool C game against the USA on September 11.

Kidney’s line-up features 13 Leinster men, nine and five from Ulster and Munster respectively, two from English clubs and one who plays his club rugby in Wales, Tommy Bowe.

Kidney admitted it had been a difficult decision to omit Fitzgerald and O’Leary who have won 23 and 22 caps respectively.

“I don’t think there’s any right way of giving out bad news,” said Kidney.

“But they took it as the men they are and I can’t speak highly enough of them.”

With Ireland having lost their three World Cup warm-up Tests to date, Kidney is hoping that, having removed the doubts and uncertainties, his chosen troops can register a much-needed win against England on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium.

The New Zealand-bound party will jet off from Dublin next Tuesday.

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