Ireland’s first-choice fly-half stunned the rugby world yesterday when he turned down a new contract with the Irish Rugby Football Union, paving the way for a lucrative move to the French Top 14 and Racing Metro.
Refusing to express disappointment at his star man’s impending departure, Kidney said he respected the 27-year-old’s decision.
“You obviously want to keep as many players playing at home as possible,” the Ireland head coach said. “It obviously affects access to the players and that can affect preparation for the national side... It’s also a huge help to the provinces to have these international lads at home and it’s always been the aim of the IRFU to try and do that.
“But we live in a professional age, everybody has to make decisions, the players, IRFU, clubs, provinces, and I respect that. That’s the age we live in.
“Jonny would be a very proud Irishman, Leinsterman, St Mary’s man and I don’t think that’s ever going to change. He’s playing for Ireland as long as he’s maintaining the standards he’s been playing at and I’d see him being able to develop even more because he’s probably just coming into his prime and I shouldn’t see that that should affect his international career. It will put a bit more pressure on travelling and access to him and will open the door to other fellas to showcase themselves at home as well.”
Kidney was evasive when asked whether he was disappointed by the fly-half’s choice to leave Irish shores.
“You’d never like to see lads go abroad but I fully respect it. Just because something is new... There was time when we used to have Mars Bars and wine gums in the dressing room and we don’t any more. But things are changing and I absolutely respect everybody’s decision in it.
“So if you’re getting a (sense) of disappointment, I’m just after a match with Ireland Wolfhounds and the question is about a different thing, so I wouldn’t let whatever body language I’m showing... maybe I’m missing my Mars Bar.”