A POPULAR perception is that Eddie O’Sullivan and Declan Kidney never clicked as a coaching ticket, and subsequently fell out when Kidney’s contract as assistant coach wasn’t renewed in June 2004.
However, yesterday, O’Sullivan generously praised Kidney’s successes to date and added that his appointment is a “positive” one for Irish rugby.
“Declan is the obvious choice for the Irish job,” O’Sullivan said. “He has worked with the Irish team with me, and with Munster, over a number of years and he has achieved huge things with maybe more to come in a few weeks’ time in the Heineken Cup.
“Declan has proven his worth as a coach and it’s a very positive thing for everybody.”
Former Ireland internationals have also queued up to welcome the new appointment, including Noel Mannion and Victor Costello.
Mannion, however, is surprised to learn that Kidney will have no involvement in the upcoming Summer Tour, and also feels that the Munster coach should have carte blanche over the appointment of his own back room staff.
“I’m surprised he has no involvement in the tour,” Mannion told Newstalk last evening. “Apparently he has no involvement in the squad selection for the tour either, which I think is strange. If his timetable with Munster allowed him to go there on a watching brief, surely one would imagine he would have some input into the selection of the team.”
Mannion pointed out that if coaches are foisted upon Kidney without his approval, it could have negative consequences for the Ireland team.
“There is no indication when the backroom staff will be picked and who is going to have the main say. One would think Declan will — he’s the man who’s going to take the fall if something goes wrong.
“There are talks that Gert Smal is coming in as forwards coach — I don’t like coaches being lumbered with people just because they’re South Africans or New Zealanders. I would like to think that Declan would be involved in that decision himself and might have his own ideas.
“As regard the blazers, they still wield a lot of power despite the fact the game is gone fully professional but they still crack a big whip. I just hope he will be allowed to pick the backroom team himself and that he’s comfortable with it.”
Meanwhile, Costello hopes that Kidney can replicate his Munster success with Ireland.
“Certainly he goes into the job with an open mind. Hopefully he’ll bring all his experience and his successes to the international scene. Declan is very well liked man and a very intelligent guy — sometimes he’s too intelligent.
“He’s going to have to be an international coach and bring all the success and the mental edge that Munster have and combine it in the international arena. That’s where it’s a challenge.”
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