France not the only ones happy with 3-0 win.
Ireland would gladly take a 3-0 win over France in their Six Nations clash on Saturday, said under-pressure coach Declan Kidney on Friday.
Kidney and his France counterpart Philippe Saint-Andre are desperate for a win that will ease both the pressure on them and also fears of a wooden spoon.
Kidney at least has one win to his credit this season – victory over last season’s Grand Slam winners Wales built around a stunning opening 43 minutes – but two narrow defeats since against England and Scotland has re-opened debate about his future.
Thus it was in the same spirit that Kidney agreed with Saint-Andre, whose side have yet to register a win and are in danger of their first wooden spoon since 1957, that the narrowest of victories would suffice.
“I’d take 3-0 as well,” said the 53-year-old, who was named world coach of the year in 2009 after guiding the Irish to the Grand Slam.
“I don’t think it will be because the games in the recent past have seen plenty of points scored.
“You can never second guess things in the Six Nations. You are constantly surprised by the way things pan out. I believe the first 20 minutes will decide things. Who settles first will be crucial.”
Kidney, who previously coached Munster to four European Cup finals in two spells there winning two of them, said he knew France were capable of playing far better than they have done already and saw some improvement in their last game against England.
“Against England they ran the ball and kept possession better,” said Kidney.
“They had one or two chances that ran abegging but there was not much in that game between the two teams.
“They were strong up front and I thought they were much more patient than they had been in the matches against Italy and Wales. One freak turnover (which led to England’s second-half try by Manu Tuilagi and set them up for a 23-13 win) decided the game.”
For his own part Kidney thought the Irish too had been guilty of pushing too hard and making errors when they were in good positions against both England and Scotland.
“Against England we set ourselves up well and got to level terms. We also put ourselves into good positions,” he said.
“We just needed to execute better and be more patient. Sometimes you can try too hard,” he said.
Kidney was not as encouraged as some in the Irish camp by the selection of the misfiring Frederic Michalak at fly-half for the French.
“Michalak is a good player who can find openings where others can’t and with (Florian) Fritz and Wesley Fofana outside him that could be dangerous for us.
Ireland skipper Jamie Heaslip, who has also come in for criticism both for his captaincy and his form, denied the Irish were reaching panic stations.
“I wouldn’t say we are desperate,” said the 29-year-old backrow forward, who to some surprise was named captain for the tournament replacing Brian O’Driscoll and ahead of other contenders such as Jonathan Sexton.
“We are disappointed with the way the last two games have gone. But we are going out there with a plan and we will activate it with a lot of passion.”
Heaslip said he thought the outcome of the match could be decided in the tussle between the back rows and was looking forward to the challenge.
“We’re going to have match their workrate,” he said.