BBC Sport rugbyunion


Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 17:32 GMT, Wednesday, 7 May 2008 18:32 UK

Kidney 'right' for Ireland role

By John Haughey
BBC Northern Ireland

Declan Kidney (left) and Jerry Flannery
Declan Kidney (left) works hard to keep his players happy

Former Munster and Ireland wing John Kelly believes that Declan Kidney is the right man to restore the country's international fortunes.

"He looks after the team but he also looks after every individual and would spend time with guys and making sure they are happy," Kelly told BBC Sport.

"He wants to make sure that there's a good feeling with the guys who maybe are not in the running to start.

"It's not going to be easy but I think he can turn it around for Ireland."

Kelly, who played under Kidney for seven years at Munster, added that the new Ireland coach makes "huge efforts" to ensure high morale in his teams.

"With Munster when a new player comes in, he makes a big deal of him.

"He'll welcome him in and he'll introduce him to the squad and he'll thank him - even if it's a guy who's just come in a for a day - for his contribution in front of the group."


Kelly recalls being almost ignored after receiving his first call-up into the Ireland squad and he insists that Kidney will ensure that all players are welcomed into the fold.

"The first Irish squad I came into, I was kind of wondering after three or four hours if I was supposed to be there. I wasn't entirely sure.

"I'm sure that kind of thing won't happen with Declan. He will make sure that every member of the squad feels like they are contributing no matter how small their role is."

Prior to Kidney's appointment, there were a few murmurings suggesting a degree of Leinster unhappiness at the impending deal but Kelly believes that Kidney will build a unified squad.

"When he first came in and took over Munster, we were very much an amateur team and we had a Cork-Limerick divide as well. The Cork fellows never trusted the Limerick fellows and vice versa.

"After about a year and a half, that Cork-Limerick divide had gone.

"He can take a situation and turn the team atmosphere into a good one. That's what's needed with Ireland at the moment."

Kelly acknowledges that some of Kidney's methods can be "bizarre".

We were doing our video session and Declan walked around with a fez on his head and one of these toy ray guns which fired plastic balls at your head

Ex-Munster and Ireland wing John Kelly

"He has his own strange ways of doing things sometimes.

"We were playing Saracens away in the Heineken Cup at the start of the 1999/2000 season.

"This was at the start of the Premiership and they had fezzes and dancing girls and music and all these fancy things beforehand.

"We were doing our video session in the week before the match and Declan walked around with a fez on his head and one of these toy ray guns which fired plastic balls at your head.

"We were watching the video and the next thing was we were getting smacked on the back of the head. We were just wondering:'What the hell is wrong with him'.

"But he was just making the point that over there, we would be faced with a lot of distractions.

"They were top of the Premiership at the time and in the match, we were 20-6 down at half-time but we came out and won by a point."

Former Munster and Ireland wing John Kelly
John Kelly played under Kidney at Munster for seven years

Given Kidney's focus on man management, his technical coaching ability has occasionally come in for criticism but Kelly says such comments are unfair.

"Deccie has his rugby strengths as well and I was with him at Munster for seven out of the 10 years that I was there.

"From a rugby point of view, there's only so much you can give to a group for seven years.

"There's only so much knowledge of rugby a person has.

"But what he did in Munster was to bring in the right people around him to add to the rugby knowledge that he had already passed on.

"Guys like Tony McGahan and Jim Williams. Initially Niall O' (Donovan) and Graham Steadman.

"Again with Ireland, he'll set up a team around him.

"The team around him is the most important. Technically on rugby, Declan is strong. Perhaps he doesn't get as much credit as he should. Saying he's a man-manager and not a technical rugby coach isn't right."

see also

related bbc links:

related internet links:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites