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Peter Bills: Is Kidney IRFU's only answer?

The problem with Ireland's apparent prevarication over the choice of their next coach is that it risks painting the IRFU into a corner.

It's possible a deal has been privately agreed with Munster coach Declan Kidney but will not be confirmed until the Heineken Cup is over. But if so, why not announce it now?

Robbie Deans revealed before the Super 14 season began that he would be leaving the Canterbury Crusaders to become Australian coach in June.

It hasn't affected the Crusaders € they're miles ahead at the top of the table.

So why the delay over Kidney if a deal has been struck? But if it hasn't, the long wait suggests that Ireland are finding it desperately hard to come up with any realistic alternative to Kidney. I'm not surprised if that is the case.

It was rumoured this week that the IRFU wished to make a completely fresh start and Jake White would have been the obvious choice. He led the Springboks to the World Cup and has a proven track record of success.

White ruled himself out, because he always fancied the England job. But the likely appointment of Martin Johnson as England manager probably closes the door on White.

But if White's prospects with England go up in smoke, might not the IRFU nip in and try to persuade him he could be the man for them. The advantage would be an outside voice, a fresh start alright and a person able to move the players out of their comfort zone. But then, maybe the South African Heyneke Meyer, who steered the Blue Bulls to last season's Super 14 title, is another option.

What it comes down to is the following: can anyone other than an Irishman coach Ireland? Or will the IRFU, mindful of their previous unhappiness with Warren Gatland and Brian Ashton, keep it among their own?

I admit I'm torn by the argument and maybe the men in power in Dublin are, too. I believe that too many of the Irish international players have been living in a comfort zone, a cosy, exclusive club for too long. I'm sure that is one reason why we have not consistently seen the best of them. Amid such comfort and exclusivity, where is the need, the hunger or desire to dig deep and play every match as though it could be your last?

The wider world of big business isn't like that. If you don't perform every day, questions begin to be asked. Ireland's players have had too many days not performing, yet even a breath of criticism has been met with stony silence and sullen stares.

Sorry guys, but professionalism can't be like that. You take the high rewards so you have to perform every time. If you don't, expect to cop the flak. Irishman Willie Walsh, a man who moved out of his own comfort zone at Aer Lingus, is finding out all about that as Chief Executive with British Airways.

Too many modern rugby players want the high financial rewards without accepting the responsibility and, if necessary, the culpability.

You have to ask yourself, which coach would best put an emphatic stop to that state of affairs within the Irish team?

Belfast Telegraph


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