Popular opinion should play no part in appointment of Kidney’s successor

16/04/2013

Manus Lappin writes: The IRFU have promised us an extensive search for Ireland’s new head coach. I hope they are genuine and that they don’t just go for the cheapest/most popular option.


A rugby team is a fluid entity, it goes through many changes and requires different things at different times, much of which is determined by the players at it’s disposal. 

Some teams need a good technical coach, some need a firm hand, some need a coach who will lay down the law and provide clear direction. Other teams need a nice guy to make sure everyone is happy. 

Ireland are undoubtedly a team in transition, and when you look at teams who have successfully transformed themselves, Leinster Rugby are a shining light of what can be achieved.

When Michael Cheika arrived in Leinster, the team were in total disarray. His abrasive approach was not to everyone’s liking, however you had two choices... do what he said or get out the door.

He never claimed to be the most technically astute coach in the world, and he surely wasn’t perfect, but Chieka knew exactly what Leinster needed and he was the right man to deliver. Cheika realised Leinster were lacking in self-belief and physicality, so he set about injecting steely determination, mental toughness and a hard physical edge into the Dublin based outfit.

Their self belief grew, so the physical and mental toughness of the team began to shine through. That historic game against Leicester Tigers, coming from a 13-9 deficit at the interval to win the game 19-16, claiming their first Heineken Cup in their first ever final, certainly epitomised what Leinster had become under Chieka. Indeed his influence has been felt long after his departure, the squad he built, playing his gameplan, went on to win a further two Heineken Cups for Leinster.

Leo Cullen stated it, under Cheika Leinster grew up. Ireland need to do the same

Watching Ireland of late, it’s apparent they have lost the hard edge that was often our standard bearer (think Woodie, Gallimh, Claw, Geoghan...). A little like Leinster pre-Cheika, they have good players but they are lacking in that mental and physical fortitude to deliver at test level.

I cannot help but think we require a Cheika-esque type of coach to cut through the bullshit and inject some steel into this Ireland team. We don’t need a coach to up-skill players, this is the job of the provinces. We need a coach who brings a hard edge to these lads.

Get them mentally and physically hardened so they can stare down the All Blacks or whoever else dares to challenge us. Respect isn’t a given, it’s an earned entity. It’s not surprising the Kiwis don’t respect Ireland as a rugby team, we’ve never earned their respect. Beat them up on the park, knock them off their perch and that will earn us respect.

The IRFU invest €35M in the professional game to give a return of €67M. Test matches contribute a massive €63M of the revenue so the success of the Irish Team should be pretty high on the Union’s agenda. For that reason and that reason alone, the search for Kidney’s successor needs to be far reaching and thorough to find the right man for the job.

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