June International Tours

Kidney focusing on ELVs and fitness


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New Ireland coach Declan Kidney is urging his players to increase their fitness levels in order to be able to handle the implementation of the Experimental Law Variations.

The IRB has implemented a global trial of 13 ELVs which started last Friday and Kidney, together with an extended Ireland squad, has already started training under them during a four-day camp in Cork.

Kidney was previously with Munster where he won the Heineken Cup and has now had three months to find his feet in the Irish top job.

He was not coach of the recent Irish tour of New Zealand and Australia but did keep a close eye on the proceedings.

His first session with the Ireland players revealed what a tough task adapting to the ELVs could prove to be.

“It’s difficult really because the matches in June were played under the old laws. The Tri Nations is been played under the new laws plus another few – where everything is going to penalties and free-kicks.” Kidney told PA Sport.

“So it has been a little bit difficult to judge that when you know it’s going to be a little bit different for us from August 1.”

“A lot of the free-kicks that are being given now will be full-on penalties. At the moment it’s tap-and-go or take a scrum.”

“The line outs could come back into vogue a bit more than they are in the Tri Nations at the moment, where there seem to be probably more scrums than there are line outs statistically, which is a bit of a change from what we had.”

“I suppose we won’t fully know it, and that’s why it will be important to get the players in on games from the start of the season this year, just to find their way themselves.”

The training camp was also the first time that the new Ireland coaching set up had a chance to get together with backs coach Alan Gaffney and kicking coach Mark Tainton, team manager Paul McNaughton, forwards coach Gert Smal and defence coach Les Kiss all took the chance to get to know each other.

In November Ireland face visits from Canada, New Zealand and Argentina and the Irish coaches are eager to put the ELV issue to bed early which effectively means that fitness and kicking skills will need to be improved.

“The fitness standards need to be upped a bit,” Kidney added.

“With the ELVs, the passages of play are just going on for so much longer. I think there was one Super 14 game that went to six minutes at the very start, whereas before a three-minute phase would have been very long.”

“I’d say we can expect three, four or five of those in a game now. A few more two-minute phases and that’s going to put its own demands on players too, but it’s only perception.”

“Everybody is saying that the ball is in play more, but the fact that it’s in play might not mean it is being run with ball in hand.”

“There seems to be a lot more kicking than there was before, and that is why Mark [Tainton] has been out and about with the players over the last three or four weeks.”

“That’s a skill we are going to have to improve on, and it won’t be good enough that just one or two guys are going to be able to kick the ball in the coming season.”

“I think it is going to take four, five maybe six guys to take the ball the length of the field.”

Overall Kidney is happy with his first week as Ireland coach and said that the reaction from the players has been very encouraging.

Kidney said: “It’s been great really. It’s been a bit nerve-wracking, just trying to get everything right and trying to get things off to a good start.”

“The players have come in well. We invited 45 players in, so we have 40 of those in and they have all been working hard.”

“We have been trying to get a balance between the provincial pre-season, which is everybody’s pre-season really because it has been a little bit shortened this year.”

“We’ve been just trying to get a balance betwee

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