Christmas turkey may never taste better as Ireland's special brew hits right spot
“No, I’m looking forward to Christmas,” agreed a relieved Kidney, whose job now, he said, was “to make sure we have as strong a squad as possible. We’ll assemble again at Christmas. I’ll try and get whatever time we can together. It’s a new squad. When you’re in school, you’re used to having different squads all the time, year on year out, but to have so many changes.
“Somebody just counted out that of the 32 we had in training this week, we had 17 new guys compared to the World Cup. That’s a monumental turnover. The bench had three one-cappers. I think four of the pack together had 21 caps; two or three years ago if you had 21 caps you were a novice.”
Come February some very, very good players are going to miss out. The injured absentees will be itching to return that little bit more after watching this and if, for example, Brian O’Driscoll and Rob Kearney were to return to their best and start against Wales, Ireland would have to pick just one from Keith Earls, Zebo and Gilroy.
Kidney admitted he was grateful the forecast rain didn’t come to pass and there was no better way to lighten a gloomy autumnal day than with Craig Gilroy’s 11th-minute try on his debut, as evidenced by the way his team-mates swarmed around him.
“Isn’t it a brilliant sporting moment?” beamed Kidney. “To score a try against them early on was brilliant but just to see their joy in it. That spontaneous reaction doesn’t always happen in sport. I talked about it being infectious in the last couple of weeks? That’s what it’s like. I think it’s the first time I’ve picked a wannabe rapper.”
Kidney and his assistant coaches are under contract until the end of the tour to America and Canada next June, and while this win eases the pressure, the IRFU are not likely to make a decision regarding his long-term future until after the Six Nations.
Asked if he had ever doubted whether he would still be in the job for the Six Nations, Kidney said: “No. This team isn’t about one person, or me, or whatever. It doesn’t matter whether I’m around or not.
“The only thing that matters is that this team does well. That’s the only thing that has ever concerned me.
“When I was asked to do it first day I said I would only do it if I feel I could contribute to it. So, no.”
Joking that you would have to mad to do the job anyway, Kidney also had thought about doing it beyond his current contract.
“I’ve been too busy getting ready for matches, really. I’ve been just enjoying their company and that’s what I hope to do for the next few hours as well,” he said.
He was entitled to that much.