England contest could decide Declan Kidney's Ireland fate, as well as the Grand Slam

 

Dublin

With his future tied to Ireland's fate in this Six Nations, coach Declan Kidney has stuck with his strongest hand for the potential Grand Slam decider with England on Sunday.

Despite injury concerns over Gordon D'Arcy, Peter O'Mahony and Keith Earls, all three have been passed by the medics as Ireland stick to the same 23 which won in Wales last weekend.

The trio's fitness will have been a relief to the coach, whose current contract expires in June. The Irish Rugby Football Union have yet to open talks about extending deal. How his team fare in the next four matches will certainly have a bearing.

Kidney has been feeling the squeeze since the two countries met in Twickenham last March when England bulldozed the Irish scrum en route to comfortable 30-9 win. What followed for the Irish was a disastrous summer tour to New Zealand where their 3-0 whitewash at the hands of the All Blacks was completed with a humiliating 60-0 defeat in Hamilton.

But having been backed into a corner, Kidney has broken with his normal conservative manner which has always seen him trust experience rather than gamble on youth. During November he capped Ulster winger Craig Gilroy, 21, Munster prop Dave Kilcoyne, then 23, and Ulster's striking back row Iain Henderson, 20. The turf-burning winger Simon Zebo, 22, also earned his second and third caps in the loss to South Africa and the win over Argentina which allowed the Irish to hold onto their second seeding for the 2015 World Cup.

Injuries may have forced the coach's hand to a degree, but he has also installed two seasoned campaigners who have arrived late to the Test scene in Connacht's Mike McCarthy, 31, and Munster's Donnacha Ryan, 29, in the second row.

In total nine personnel changes have been made from the mauling Ireland received just under 12 months ago in London. Although Irish captain Jamie Heaslip tried his best to downplay this weekend's match as an opportunity to seek revenge, the Leinster No 8 harbours a tremendous pain from the loss.

"I haven't really looked back at the England game an awful lot, it was grim enough in the changing room afterwards, it was a tough place to be," recalled Heaslip yesterday. "It was not a proud moment as a professional. Certainly, you bank them; any big loss you have to bank them. But the engineer in me allows me to be somewhat clinical and prevent the emotion coming into it too much when you're preparing for a game. Once you do have the clarity in your job role then you let your emotion out through your actions; that's when you bring out that sort of stuff. You dig deep for that."

Kidney, too, tried to reinforce the message that the Irish could ill-afford to let emotions run riot ahead of 80 minutes that will require the same clinical execution that they displayed until early in the second half against Wales.

"You have to just work hard to make sure it doesn't come into it," said Kidney. "The game itself is the same when you analyse it and let you emotions just settle down. It will be an extremely physical challenge, both technically and tactically. England are going to push us in every single way and they're the bits we have to be right for. We just have to put the emotion of the whole thing to one side. That's sometimes easier said than done."

As for Kidney's future, the IRFU are handling the situation with that same type of cold analysis and emotional detachment and the fact that the coach guided Ireland to their first Grand Slam in 61 years back in 2009 carries little weight now.

The Six Nations fixture list also haunts him like an idle henchman in the gallows. In the odd-numbered years Ireland play host to France and England which lends to an accepted logic that these seasons are their best chances at winning a Slam.

A tough hurdle has been overcome in the shape of Wales. If the Irish can beat England, then only the challenge of an off-colour French team in Dublin on 9 March should remain in the way of a clean sweep.

However, defeat could set Ireland off course and leave Kidney swimming against a tide from which he may not recover.

Voices
The Sumatran tiger, endemic to the Indonesian island of Sumatra, is an endangered species
voicesJonathon Porritt: The wild tiger population is thought to have dropped by 97 per cent since 1900
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him
musicIndie music promoter was was a feature at Carter gigs
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Story line: Susanoo slays the Yamata no Orochi serpent in the Japanese version of a myth dating back 40,000 years
arts + entsApplying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Performers dressed as Tunnocks chocolate teacakes, a renowned Scottish confectionary, perform during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
news
Life and Style
Popular plonk: Lambrusco is selling strong
Food + drinkNaff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
News
Gardai wait for the naked man, who had gone for a skinny dip in Belfast Lough
newsTwo skinny dippers threatened with inclusion on sex offenders’ register as naturists criminalised
News
Shake down: Michelle and Barack Obama bump knuckles before an election night rally in Minnesota in 2008, the 'Washington Post' called it 'the fist bump heard round the world'
newsThe pound, a.k.a. the dap, greatly improves hygiene
Arts and Entertainment
La Roux
music
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Fellows as John Shuttleworth
comedySean O'Grady joins Graham Fellows down his local Spar
News
people
News
Ross Burden pictured in 2002
people
News
Elisabeth Murdoch: The 44-year-old said she felt a responsibility to 'stand up and be counted’'
media... says Rupert Murdoch
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Extras
indybest
Sport
Arsenal signing Calum Chambers
sportGunners complete £16m transfer of Southampton youngster
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on