Kidney defiant in face of mounting injuries
Declan Kidney refused to surrender the RBS 6 Nations title race even though Ireland amassed an alarming injury list in yesterday’s 12-6 defeat by England.
Wing Simon Zebo will miss the remainder for the championship with a broken foot, while fly-half Jonathan Sexton is a serious doubt for the next assignment against Scotland after tearing his hamstring.
Centre Brian O’Driscoll, flanker Sean O’Brien, and locks Mike McCarthy and Donnacha Ryan also picked up knocks that will require close attention over the coming fortnight.
Adding to their woes is Cian Healy’s stamp on the ankle of England prop Dan Cole, an act that seems sure to result in the Leinster loosehead being cited and banned.
Ireland will welcome the first break in the championship as an opportunity to nurse their wounded and regroup before the trip to Edinburgh on February 25.
The error-strewn defeat by England has deflated a squad that was buoyant after the opening-day victory over Wales, but Kidney reminded his player they can still win the Six Nations.
“This gives England a bit of daylight with the other five sides on two points each with three matches to play,” Kidney said.
“We’re extremely disappointed because that wasn’t the result we wanted. Let’s see what France come up with at Twickenham. England have to go to Cardiff too.
“There’s still a hell of a lot to play for. What we have now are three more opportunities to get three wins. Let’s get to eight points and see where we are at the end of it.
“The Grand Slam is a wonderful thing to win, but first and foremost you play for the championship and we’re still well in for that.”
Ireland’s only route back into contention is if England lose in their remaining fixtures against France, Italy and Wales.
On yesterday’s evidence that is unlikely as England showed composure and accuracy amid a stormy encounter at the Aviva Stadium to remain the only team in contention for a Grand Slam.
Once Ronan O’Gara – who replaced Sexton – had drawn Ireland level with two penalties, Owen Farrell added two more to his earlier brace to push England clear in well-orchestrated finish by the visitors.
Time and again any Irish momentum was halted by unforced errors and even the wet conditions failed to account for the number of handling mistakes they made.
“I don’t want to blame the conditions because both teams played in them,” captain Jamie Heaslip said.
“There were a lot of knock ons and unforced errors. I don’t know what caused all the errors. It was frustrating and we constantly tried to regroup and go again. England played a good pressure game.
“There were a lot of sore guys in the changing room, particularly because of the hits they took but also because they lost in a green jersey at home.”