Opportunity knocks for a variety of players
Like Jackson, Trimble, Chris Henry, Tom Court and Declan Fitzpatrick (likely to be the back-up props in Murrayfield), Iain Henderson plays for Ulster tonight, albeit at blindside flanker, whereas the Irish management might have preferred to see him at lock given McCarthy’s damaged medial ligaments will be in a brace for two weeks. “It is quite possible Iain will move to the secondrow at some stage during the game,” said Kidney. In fairness to Mark (Anscombe), this is the balancing act that is Irish rugby, he has other injuries as well then too. The provinces don’t have to do what we might ask. We try to work with them, the important thing is to have Ian on the pitch.”
Donncha O’Callaghan looks favoured to partner Donnacha Ryan, himself sidelined from training this week with a lower back injury, with Henderson providing cover from the bench, although Devin Toner’s inclusion in yesterday’s Irish camp shows he’s in the frame.
The management’s options are limited by the back spasm which has sidelined Dan Tuohy for Ulster tonight, and Ireland are so battered it almost looks as if they lost two games in one last weekend. “You wouldn’t want to understate it, you wouldn’t want to overstate it, so what words do you pick? The injury list is quite extensive,” said Kidney, as he also reminded us of the absent Paul O’Connell, Stephen Ferris, Tommy Bowe and Richardt Strauss.
“But we have always said that we would not complain about it, that we would work a way through it and that one man’s loss is another’s opportunity. There’s going to to be fellas looking for a chance and they’re going to get that chance now and we’ll look forward to seeing them play.”
Coupled with Scotland’s restorative win over Italy, it’s hard to imagine how much worse last weekend might have gone from an Irish perspective. “It is daunting,” Kidney admitted. “If you’d have looked at it on paper earlier in the season people might have made us odds-on for it but I’d say that’s changed now with the circumstances that have unfolded over the weekend. You can either be consumed by that, get depressed by it or say ‘Well, this is the challenge and that’s what makes the competition what it is’.
“It’s an eight-week story, you never know what’s around the corner. This isn’t where we wanted to be, we wanted to get the win the last day but we didn’t. It was a game probably we lost rather than we were beaten in, and that’s for us to rectify.”