Ahead of the 6 Nations crunch game against Scotland this weekend, the TDC.com team briefly gives its opinion on whether Declan Kidney should be offered a new contract by the IRFU when his current deal ends this summer. A deadline that is fast approaching….
Dave – @dbkinch – Upfront I will state that I do not believe that Declan Kidney should be offered a new contract by the IRFU regardless of the result against Scotland (a game I think we will win) or final finishing place in this year’s 6 Nations.
Calls for his replacement have been audible for over 12 months and the overall lack of progress is laid bare in a recent article by Shane Stapleton, a win ratio of just 53% in the 6 Nations since the 2009 Grandslam is damning. Both Shane and JL Pagano rightly point to various on-field technical reasons for Ireland’s current status as a second tier team which is flattered by its current ranking of 6th place but my focus lies on Kidney’s broader management approach which I believe underpins this lack of progress.
While Kidney cannot be blamed for on-field injuries, the bounce of a ball or player errors his greatest failure has been his lack of flexibility and inability to build coherently for the future. We saw an influx of new players in the 2012 Autumn series and this has carried through to the 6 Nations however it all feels very ad hoc and as a response to external pressure. The debacle surrounding the introduction of Michael Bent to Irish rugby in November and now the threadbare options at 10 in the absence of Sexton are prime examples of this point. The inclusion of Jackson against Scotland is a bold choice but surely if he had been in Kidneys plans then his inclusion would not have been such a surprise and would have been relatively seamless. The same can be said for the recall of Tom Court who has been playing very well for Ulster but comes at the expense of a Kilcoyne, a player who Kidney himself seemed to have earmarked for future inclusion.
I would also point out that Ireland has missed a trick in terms of the potential of naturalised players. We need to be honest and point to the success of the provinces which would not have been achieved without significant foreign influence on and off field. The IRFU are clearly not adverse to the idea and it is a process that should have been investigated and developed a couple of years ago across all positions. Although such a strategy would involve financial backing, Kidney as head coach should have been using his position to call for all options to be investigated.
A look at Kidneys IRFU biog is telling, demonstrating undoubted previous success, it like the current Irish coaching set up is out of date and in need of change.
Redser – @eoinredahan – Kidney problems: 10 reasons why Declan Kidney should not been offered a new contract..
- Falling back on bad habits – Read Ronan O’Gara, Paddy Wallace, Keith Earls at 13 and aimless kicking from hand.
- Alienating the provinces – Ian Madigan only squeezed into the squad despite showing the best form of the backup 10s. Up until the Scotland selection, Ulster’s recent crop has also been overlooked for big games.
- The 12, 13 conundrum – Brian O’Driscoll and Gordon D’Arcy will retire soon, yet Kidney hasn’t properly engaged this problem. The pretenders are either worryingly inexperienced, ill-suited or too old. He has had plenty of time to sort this out.
- Freezing Reddan out – Kidney makes up his mind on certain players; then he covers his eyes and blocks his ears. The best Irish 9, 10 combination is still Eoin Reddan and Jonny Sexton. Conor Murray’s form has been encouraging, but the Leinster player’s speed around the base draws the best from Sexton.
- The inability to play well in consecutive games (against decent opposition) – I refuse to count the drubbing given to jaded Pumas in the Autumn internationals.
- Back row balance – We have superb individuals in the back row, but struggle as a collective. We have sixes playing as sevens, but Kidney has rarely opted for a specialist seven. Some feel Sean O’Brien should be playing at number eight and others query the infallibility of Heaslip. It is a tricky conundrum – one Kidney is paid to solve.
- Underdeveloped backup at 10 – How many full international caps do Paddy Jackson, Ian Madigan and Ian Keatley have? The answer is three – between them.
- Lack of specialist cover at full back – Simon Zebo, Luke Fitzgerald and Keith Earls have all filled in at 15, but none of them is specialised in the position, and it shows. Robbie Henshaw has promising talent. Blood him as backup and dispense with the part-time full back. We’ve seen too many sliced touch finders.
- Spurning future talent – Ireland looked superb in the IRB Junior World Championship in South Africa last summer. We have seen the lustre taken off one gilded generation due to arch-conservatism. Please, IRFU, don’t let this happen again.
- Spring cleaning – Declan Kidney is the writer who edits his own book. He has seen the words so many times that he no longer spots the mistakes. It is time for fresh ideas.
Neil – @nkeegan – So now it is my turn to question whether Declan Kidney should be offered a new contract after the 6 Nations this year.
Eh………..I don’t know.
I started 2013 by saying that he should not be offered a new deal based on results and seeming to not be sure about what the team should be doing. I certainly was against offering him a deal before the 6 Nations.
There have been some strange decisions. He has put his faith in Keith Earls at 13, when his best position is left wing. He wanted Tomas O’Leary to stay at 9, when he was not performing and when there was Eoin Redden, Issac Boss and soon after that was Conor Murray. His treatment of Brian O’Driscoll and Ronan O’Gara was disrespectful
He is loathe to change until absolutely necessary. The team that played against Argentina would not have been picked if Kidney had his first choice. He then hangs on when the changes work, or goes back to the old team when that doesn’t work.
He has been great for Ireland. He took Eddie O’Sullivans team and brought it forward for a few years. We need to remember that in any sport, there is rarely an Alex Ferguson. With all due respect to Declan Kidney, he is not Alex Ferguson.
So to answer your question……I don’t know…..
Who would you have replace him?
@nkeegan for debate/abuse/discussion.