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ROG gets axed to save Kidney? That's nonsense

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Declan Kidney is preparing for France on Saturday

Declan Kidney is preparing for France on Saturday

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Declan Kidney is preparing for France on Saturday

Whatever your take and whatever mine to suggest Declan Kidney took the decision to omit Ronan O'Gara from his latest squad in an effort to save his job is simply off the wall.

Kidney has many faults like the rest of us but when it comes to earning his daily bread he does so with absolute integrity.

The man has made some strange decisions in the last twelve months. Quite what was to be gained in calling Paddy Wallace to New Zealand from a beach in Portugal I will never know.

On the captaincy issue I had mixed views believing a change to whoever would have been in the best interests of the man he was replacing (Brian O'Driscoll) going forward. Unfortunately on all evidence to date it was a strategic decision that has not worked.

The one that really caught me on the hop was the decision to run with Paddy Jackson ahead of O'Gara for the trip to Murrayfield.

As one who will consistently advance the premise that 'good enough is old enough' I will always hold my council when a coach makes the call to give youth its fling.

I admire Kidney for doing what he did but as an accident waiting to happen it was right up there. What concerns me now is not that the Head Coach made the decision he did but that the young player at the centre of it – Jackson – is shipping cruel and unwarranted criticism he doesn't deserve.

It wasn't Jackson's fault we lost to Scotland and much though I admire Ian Madigan who will wear the green No 10 sooner rather than later I believe it would do further damage to the young Ulster player's psyche at this level were he not to be re-selected to face the French now.

The obvious out-half fix is carrying the most debilitating of injuries and for that very reason I hope common sense prevails and Jonny Sexton is given the requisite time to recover from a hamstring injury that can only be realistically tested in the white heat of a full blown match.

Then comes this announcement that Sexton's bete noire has been omitted from the squad of thirty two to prepare for next Saturday's French test.

I genuinely believe it to be the right decision for the right reason yet, as with the out-half decision for Edinburgh, it did surprise. The 'why now' bit is easy, O'Gara is out of sorts and no longer the confident force he was for so long at this level.

Players of my generation have a wry smile when we hear of the Head Coach knocking on the bedroom door and explaining to the player involved why he is going to be dropped when the team is announced to the outside world sometime after that. Let's just say it NEVER and I mean NEVER happened in times past. You were dropped and never ever told why.

I have no insider information and I emphasise that point strongly but I am not so sure Kidney would want to continue as head honcho given what has transpired over the past twelve months. Only in exceptional circumstances should a Head Coach's shelf life extend beyond four years in my view.

Kidney has two games still to go for a three from five return and perhaps then the time for discussion as to whether he and this backroom staff lead the Summer tour to the US and Canada will be discussed although I repeat if the perception is of an IRFU think tank beavering away feverishly in the background on a new management team then think again rapidly.

Belfast Telegraph


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