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Declan Kidney defensive over Ireland's poor form

Updated: Thursday, 22 Nov 2012 17:31 | Comments

Declan Kidney has defended his team in the face of criticism
Declan Kidney has defended his team in the face of criticism

Declan Kidney today offered transition as the explanation for Ireland's troubled spell as his coaching regime enters a crucial phase.

Kidney has made just one change to the side dispatched by South Africa for Saturday's match against Argentina with Craig Gilroy replacing Andrew Trimble on the left wing.

The climax to the Guinness November Series at Aviva Stadium has taken on grave significance with the winners guaranteed a place among the second tier of seeds for the 2015 World Cup draw.

Adding further impetus to Ireland's quest for victory is their current five-Test losing sequence, their worst run for 14 years.

Depleted by injuries to six key players including Lions captains Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell, Kidney reacted to the suggestion he is under pressure by highlighting the unfamiliar appearance of his squad.

"All we can do is look to get better game on game," the head coach said.

"We've had a lot of tough games recently and have picked up something from each match.

"Everyone knows this is a completely different squad and these players are learning game on game.

"They'll get better and I couldn't ask any more from them.

"When we've been beating teams in the past we haven't gone on about it and now we're not going to go on about losing."

"When we've been beating teams in the past we haven't gone on about it and now we're not going to go on about losing" - Declan Kidney

One of the fresh faces in Ireland's squad is Gilroy, whose reward for his dynamic display in Saturday's non-cap international against Fiji is displacing Ulster colleague Trimble from the starting XV.

The uncapped 21-year-old scored three tries in the 53-0 victory at Thomond Park and has profited from

Trimble's disappointing afternoon against the Springboks.

"We came to the conclusion that the team that played against South Africa did well for a good part of it," Kidney said.

"Having that game under their belts will stand the players in good stead. Craig coming in will only add to it. Andrew will be back again.

"Craig is playing well and has experience of playing on the left wing."

Earlier this week Gilroy signed a contract extension with Ulster until 2016 and today he was celebrating his impending Test baptism.

He has made 52 appearances for his province since making debut in November 2010, emerging as the leading try scorer in each of the last two seasons.

Craig Gilroy (second from right)

"I'm delighted to be involved. Obviously Argentina will be a different kettle of fish to Fiji," Gilroy said.

"I want to do well and take my opportunity. It's all happened pretty fast. I have to keep my feet on the ground and enjoy it" - Craig Gilroy

"I want to do well and take my opportunity. It's all happened pretty fast. I have to keep my feet on the ground and enjoy it."

If Argentina add to Ireland's misery at Lansdowne Road on Saturday, Kidney's position will come under scrutiny, exacerbated by the missed opportunity against South Africa.

The rivals have met on 12 previous occasions with the Irish winning seven matches, including the last two, and captain Jamie Heaslip knows what is at stake in the latest instalment of a fierce rivalry.

"In the greater scheme of things it's an important game, but for us it's like any other match" - Jamie Heaslip

"In the greater scheme of things it's an important game, but for us it's like any other match," Heaslip said.

"We've all played in big matches like Heineken Cup finals and internationals.

"We just have to treat it like we treat every game and chance that we get.

"Argentina will be a lot more organised because of the time they have together now.

"They have a big, physical pack and their backs aren't afraid to play either."

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