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Page last updated at 09:38 GMT, Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Declan Kidney says John Hayes still has Ireland future

Ireland v South Africa
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday 6 November Kick-off: 1730 GMT Coverage: Live on BBC Two, BBC Sport Website and BBC Radio Ulster MW; text commentary on BBC Sport website

John Hayes
John Hayes has won 102 caps for Ireland

Ireland coach Declan Kidney says the absence of John Hayes from his side to face South Africa on Saturday does not represent the end of his Test career.

Hayes has been omitted from an Ireland match 22 on the strength of selection for the first time since making his Test debut over a decade ago.

"Not at all is this the end for John, definitely not," said Kidney.

"It hasn't been easy to leave guys out but that's my job. Guys will still have a role to play in the next 12 months."

Hayes' Munster colleague Tony Buckley has been preferred as starting tight-head prop with Tom Court's versatility winning the Ulsterman a spot on the bench.

"Tom Court has been playing 80 minutes recently and the advantage for him is that he's the one prop who has had time on both sides of the scrum," added Kidney.

"In a 22-man squad you have to look at that tactically.

"Tony took his break during the summer tour very well and he's backed that up with a few good performances since.

"John was unfortunate because he fell ill at the start of the tour and didn't get his energy back, so didn't get a go at it."

Tony Buckley
Tony Buckley played in Ireland's summer tour

Finding a replacement for 37-year-old Hayes, who has won 102 caps, has been one of the most pressing issues for Ireland, who have struggled for depth at prop.

The giant Buckley has long been viewed as his successor but has only recently blossomed after making his Ireland debut in 2007 as a substitute.

At 30 he is no rookie in terms of age but Kidney insists he has shown patience to get the game time he needed to press his claim.

"Now it's Tony's opportunity and that's because of the progress he's made in his career," said Kidney.

"He's now played against Australia and New Zealand and will face South Africa on Saturday.

"Every player wants to pit themselves against the best and hopefully Tony will take his opportunity again.

"All players need a run of games and none more so than props.

"Tony got a string of games at the Churchill Cup in 2008 and 2009 and for a big man motoring around a pitch that was exactly what he needed - he was getting better and better with each game.

"He got more game time last year and finished strongly last season.

"You could call him a late bloomer but John hasn't exactly made it easy for him."

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see also
O'Driscoll fit to face Springboks
02 Nov 10 |  Irish
De Villiers fit to face Ireland
05 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
O'Driscoll could still face Boks
28 Oct 10 |  Rugby Union
Fitzgerald added to Ireland squad
25 Oct 10 |  Irish
Horan ruled out of autumn matches
21 Oct 10 |  Irish
Injured duo may join Irish squad
19 Oct 10 |  Irish
Ireland 15-10 South Africa
28 Nov 09 |  Irish

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