Discretion the better part of valour as Sexton is rested while Jackson to fit in
But it’s the absence of Sexton which hurts the most. Aside from everything else, he kicked six from six in the win over Wales. Although he is training lightly, rather than run the risk of him breaking down after five or 10 minutes Kidney has decided to “let him build up the strength in the muscle properly and then he should be fit for Italy the week after.”
Kidney denied the injury toll typified the way the campaign has become de-railed.
“We’ve had our share of injuries that are totally out of anybody’s control. But other than that everything else we’ve done in a very controlled and calculated way.”
With so much negativity swirling around, Kidney has a job preventing this from permeating into the squad. “You just deal with things honestly the way they are, give out information the way it is,” he said.
“People are bound to have opinions around different things. The last two results are very disappointing. We put ourselves in a good position against Scotland. We spilled a few balls in the first half against England, got back to 6-6 and then gave away two penalties and that cost us that game.
“It’s not like we’re a million miles away from it; I know that for a fact. It’s just a case of bringing those things together. When they come together it will be a more positive result for everybody.”
The coach was asked why he risked creating another media storm by omitting Ronan O’Gara from the 32-man squad last Sunday, and said: “These calls have to be made. That’s the role of the coach. You can avoid them. It was a very tight call but when you have to do your job, you have to do your job. It’s not about bringing anything down on myself, it’s about doing my job. That’s the way I see it. The easy thing at this time is to make no decision.”
On a similar theme, it has been suggested Kidney has made this call, along with first retaining Jamie Heaslip as captain and then promoting Jackson ahead of O’Gara as, somehow, a means of lobbying for a new contract beyond this season up to the next World Cup.
“If I did hear it, I would say it was very, very wide of the mark,” responded Kidney indignantly. “Every decision I have ever made was for the good of the team.”