Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Kidney: Heaslip ready to go

Declan Kidney

Ireland coach Declan Kidney has warned France that Jamie Heaslip is champing at the bit to make his comeback in Sunday's RBS 6 Nations clash.

Heaslip, who has recovered from an ankle injury, will be making his first appearance since December. The talented Lions back row slots in at number eight with Leinster colleague Sean O'Brien moving to blindside flanker and Denis Leamy dropping to the bench.

"Jamie's a good player and brings his own skill set. That'll give us variation in the team, Jamie trained fully on Monday and Tuesday, so there was no need not to select him. He's looking forward to it," said Kidney.

Kidney was reluctant to make any other changes, even though Ireland were almost the victims of one of the championship's great upsets last Saturday before scraping home 13-11 against Italy.

"I wasn't satisfied with the way we played against Italy. We can play a lot better," he said.

"But the players performed in such a way that meant they deserved another go. Sometimes you need to back your players and after the way they went about their business, that's what I'm doing.

"There were times last week when we off-loaded to people who weren't in better positions than the ball carrier. The co-ordination between combinations takes time to bed in and that's why we've gone with the same team."

France warmed up for Sunday's showdown in Dublin with a dashing 34-21 victory over Scotland, a performance that saw their post-autumn obituaries being hastily re-written. Ireland believe their best chance of upsetting the Grand Slam champions rests with attempting to beat them at their own game.

"With the way the laws of the game are now, if you stand off France and try to do damage limitation, you'll be opened up," said Kidney.

"So we need to have the courage to go out and play. We'll continue to do that. These fellas are hugely self-critical and sometimes they just need to relax, trust themselves and go out and play. That's what I'm hoping they'll do on Sunday."