Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Tyrone Howe: Jury out on Kidney contract call

So, Declan Kidney lives to fight another day. But how much does Ireland’s performance and victory influence the chances of a contract extension by the end of this season?

To his credit Kidney selected Craig Gilroy on form, like Chris Henry before him, and gave the likes of Mike McCarthy a chance.

Moreover, the experiment of Simon Zebo at full back seemed to pay off.

Above all, he employed a tactical game against Argentina which played to his team’s attacking strengths.

I said last week that such an approach would require robust self-confidence and doubted such depth.

However, the reaction of the players to Gilroy’s try showed how much it did matter and proved their togetherness as a squad, or maybe it was a reaction to the tension of the occasion.

Whatever the cause, this plays in Kidney’s favour, and one hopes also sets the standard and approach for the upcoming Six Nations campaign.

However, many of these selections were forced through injury rather than a deliberate strategy of blending in and blooding new talent.

Conservatism in selection and a lack of consistency have been key issues.

Ireland seem to be able to pull a rabbit out of the hat

when their backs are absolutely against the wall — remember the remarkable win over England in the 2011 Six Nations and the World Cup defeat of Australia.

Yet, these have been one-offs amidst a slew of inconsistency. Effectively we have returned to the olden days when Irish victories are most likely when they are written off. This is an unacceptable situation.

Has Ireland’s minimum level of performance been high enough over the last three years?

The answer is a definitive no, which is unacceptable.

The term ‘transition’ can only account for so much.

While the Autumn internationals finished on a high and Kidney discovered some new players, the Six Nations will be vital.

More time to prepare, England and France at home, Wales and Scotland struggling — the stage is set for a demonstrative statement from Kidney (left) and his players.

Whatever contractual decisions are taken, one hopes that any such consideration of an extension is taken after the end of the 2013 tournament and not before.

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