Oval Talk

Kidney to blame for Ireland failings

Oval Talk

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Declan Kidney looks dejected against Scotland

While it's easy to point the accusatory finger at Paddy Jackson for Ireland's defeat to Scotland, it's Declan Kidney who should take the bulk of the blame for his short-sightedness.

The 21-year-old fly-half was asked to fill the rather large boots of Jonathan Sexton, out injured with a hamstring problem which he incurred during a 12-6 loss to England, and Ireland's most-capped player Ronan O'Gara.

Kidney turned to Jackson after O'Gara, capped 129 times, failed to do an adequate job replacing Sexton against the Red Rose before producing a woeful performance for Munster at Scarlets.

The 35-year-old's miserable form forced Kidney's hand and the Ireland head coach had to make a change for the trip to Murrayfield.

So Kidney opted to start Jackson in his first full international, and while it wasn't a complete disaster for the promising youngster, it will certainly be a debut to forget.

The young fly-half's early knock-on was an indication of perhaps nerves (and how Ireland's afternoon would pan out) and may have played a part in Jamie Heaslip's decision to give up two kickable penalties.

Of course, it was a tough for Jackson, who wasn't taking Ulster's penalties at the weekend, and was carrying an injury heading into the game, but was still asked by Kidney to assume goal-kicking duties in one of the biggest matches of his career to date and a must-win match for his country.

Can Heaslip be blamed for having a lack of faith in his fly-half? Not really. His decisions were made in good faith based on territory. The blame lies with Kidney who has failed to identify a capable incumbent for Sexton.

Since the Leinster star made the Ireland No.10 jersey his own in recent years, albeit after a lengthy battle with O'Gara, Kidney has persisted with O'Gara at No.22 to provide cover instead of blooding promising youngsters like Jackson, Ian Madigan and Ian Keatley.

Indeed, Kidney's decision to place O'Gara on the bench was even questionable. Being dropped from the starting XV would have been another devastating blow to the veteran, having already been low on confidence following his performances against England and Scarlets.

And it was no surprise to see O'Gara produce that bizarre kick in the 72nd minute in a bid to off-load possession quickly when a simple pass to Rob Kearney was on. He's been a great servant for his country, and although it would be a shame to end on such a sour note, it's difficult to see Kidney turning to him again.

It will be interesting to see who Kidney turns to for Italy's visit to the Aviva Stadium on 9 March.

(By Kieran Beckles, Yahoo!)

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