DECLAN KIDNEY believes Jerry Flannery has no case to answer after his clash with Alexis Palisson in Saturday’s Six Nations defeat at the Stade de France. And the coach remains quietly confident that his team can bounce back from what was a comprehensive 33-10 defeat at the hands of the rampant French.
Flannery appeared to lash out with his boot at Palisson in the 26th minute and was fortunate not to be shown a card. But Kidney insisted: “You never know these days but I wouldn’t have thought so. The whistle was gone, it was a 50-50 ball, two guys collided, the referee didn’t make anything of it, and the touch judge had his flag out, he thought it was a penalty.”
There will, of course, be massive speculation concerning the selection of the side to meet England before it is announced tomorrow week. When asked if he had some big decisions to make, the coach replied: “The same as I have had for the last few weeks. Let’s see what happens. We never went on (about) who was in and who was out for this game because we were happy with whoever played. Geordan (Murphy) and Luke (Fitzgerald) are out, Rob (Kearney) is sore. We’ll have to see what happens. And if you’re alluding to other positions, that’s what we build the squad for and we’ll take a good look at next week’s Magners League matches.”
In spite of their poor form in the November internationals, England have invariably been difficult opponents for Ireland, especially at Twickenham, and now that they have pieced a few decent results together, they’ll be as formidable as ever on Saturday week.
“We can always come back but it probably can be done in easier places than Twickenham,” said Kidney before adding: “The job all of a sudden gets easier. There is always a psychological blow in losing. It hits everybody. You see the tennis players, the golfers, they go on a winning run but if they lose one… however, if you fall down, it’s only bad if we don’t pick yourself up. And that’s what we have to do.”
Kidney admitted that the atmosphere in the dressing room was “very quiet” after the game. He pointed to the highs over the last 12 months but accepted they also come with the lows and readily accepted that France were extremely worthy winners on the day.
“They deserved their win and you have to learn from it and move on,” he said. “The bigger the game, the little things are so important: passes that don’t stick, momentum, staying calm, that’s what pressure is. We have to learn from that. We had a number of guys playing their first game here. They’ll benefit from having had the experience and it’s a case of banking that experience and using it to our advantage.
“France were hugely efficient and probably could have scored another try or two; the drop goals they got, they were just very efficient in keeping the scoreboard ticking over and that’s the sign of a good side. We started okay for 15 to 20 minutes. If I was to think we could never get the better of them, then I wouldn’t stay.
“I said all the time last year that it was a game of inches and so it was here too,” said Kidney. “They got their chances, they took them; we got chances and we didn’t take them. When you go in at half time and you know you’re 14 points up, you can play that different type of game. The pressure was off them.
“What pleased me most is that we said we’d attack for 80 minutes and we tried to do that,” Kidney pointed out. “Some of it was from deep and you could say it was inadvisable. But if we’re to move forward as a side, that’s what we have to do. It’s always easier to attack when the scores are level or when you’re up points.
“What disappointed me most? It’s for all of us to get the little things right and how we do that. In the same way I didn’t prompt fellas last year when we were winning, I’m not going to be picking out any little bits now. But I know that all aspects of our game can do with improvement and Saturday showed what can happen when pressure comes on. If we learn from that, we’ll become a better side.”
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