On what must have been an emotional day for the year-old on reaching the pinnacle of his career, that would have privately pleased him no end. His coronation came with a lack of fanfare both typical of the man and his publicity-wary employers - albeit in marked contrast to the press conference which announced Eddie O'Sullivan's premature and ultimately costly four-year extension last August.
Kidney steps into unknown
So it was that confirmation of Kidney's appointment as Irish coach comprised a brief statement with a few generic quotes thrown in. Whereas O'Sullivan was contracted to the conclusion of the , and latterly the Six Nations, Kidney's contract "will see him lead Ireland up to and including Rugby World Cup in New Zealand". This merely shows how comparatively subservient the union were in their dealings with O'Sullivan. The less than smooth transition, with something of a lost opportunity in the Six Nations and now an interim coach, all emanate from last August's deeply flawed decision.
As a result of Munster's involvement in the Heineken Cup final on May 24th, along with the need to assemble his back-up staff, a caretaker coach will take charge of the Ireland-Barbarians game in Gloucester three days later and the two-Test tour to New Zealand and Australia; almost certainly Michael Bradley.
As expected, Kidney will not take part "in the selection and preparation of that squad". Nor, most likely, will he even travel in a watching brief.
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In all of this, as in the delay with Kidney putting pen to paper, the year-old was, and remains, at pains to stay fully focused on the job in hand with Munster. That, coupled with his own inclination to iron out the finer detail of his back-up staff and the IRFU's unwieldy committee process, rather than any one vexed issue, may explain the delay.
Kidney, meanwhile, was quoted as saying: "There is no greater honour for any coach than to lead his own country. I have had that privilege at several levels of the game in Ireland from schools and unders as well as working with the senior Ireland team and I am delighted to have this opportunity and to be here at what is the pinnacle of my career.
The challenge going forward for the Ireland team and Irish rugby as a whole is to continue the growth and success on the field. I am excited about the challenge and looking forward to working with the players. My focus now for the next three weeks will be totally on the Munster team and the preparation for the Heineken European Cup final.
From Belfast Telegraph
His ability to achieve success and develop players in the ever-increasing competitive arena of professional rugby is proven and the IRFU is delighted to have made this appointment. Indeed, what happens in the summer tour and next autumn will go some way toward determining his ultimate challenge, and his legacy, at the World Cup in New Zealand.
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