Irish rugby coach Declan Kidney surprises with World Cup squad
Ireland Rugby World Cup squad
Luke Fitzgerald and Tomas O’Leary were the big losers as Ireland coach Declan Kidney went for a couple of M&Ms -- Murphy and Murray -- for the forthcoming World Cup in New Zealand.
Young Munster scrum-half Conor Murray and veteran Leicester Tigers full-back Geordan Murphy are the surprise inclusions in Kidney’s final 30 man squad.
Fitzgerald and O’Leary both miss out despite playing for part of the penultimate warm-up game as Ireland went down to France, for the second week in a row, in the summer test series game at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
Even Kidney acknowledged that Murray was the surprise pack in his World Cup squad ahead of group games against the U.S., Italy, Russia and Australia.
“Well, obviously what he can do is a little bit unknown. He’s had a very good pre-season. He’s had limited enough opportunity on the pitch, but he’s taken it with both hands and so that’s how we ended up with that decision,” said Kidney.
“With the quality of the squad at the moment, the difficulty was not who to pick, the difficulty was in who not to pick. Because there is not alone some extraordinary players there, but people there too.”
Murphy missed the 2003 World Cup after he broke his leg in the final warm-up game, and was so convinced he wouldn’t make the squad this time that he had already returned to England when Kidney named him on Monday.
“Isn’t that a real case of the highs and lows of sport? I was involved eight years ago when Geordan broke his leg in Edinburgh and now he gets his opportunity,” added Kidney.
“He’s an experienced man and brings a lot off the pitch as well as on the pitch and it’s always great to be able to name somebody, as difficult as it is to have to exclude somebody.”
Kidney has gone for a 16-14 forwards-backs split in his squad but admitted he thought about taking an extra forward.
He said, “There was a time a couple of months back when I was seriously looking at 17-13. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t on my mind, but you always have to live in the present and I know that 16-14 is right for us now.”
Heineken Cup winner Fitzgerald is the shock exclusion from the traveling party, although Murphy’s versatility worked in his favor after injury ruled Felix Jones out of the squad.
Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll said, “It’s very disappointing for Luke and for a number of other guys that would have been really hopeful to be involved. But I think it shows the strength of our squad and the quality there.
“The people that have made it in will be delighted to have made the squad, but the next thing is about pushing for a first 15 place and I think that’s the mentality that we need to make it a success.”
Fergus McFadden is included and O’Driscoll added: “I think he brings a great energy. Fergus is a strange one in that he could take four weeks off training and come back and blow everyone away.
“He’s probably one of the fittest guys that I know and it seems unfair that he doesn’t have to work on it like some of us. But, he’s a great personality. He works off the ball a lot and he’s a selfless player.
“I’m sure he’s delighted to be involved, but I’m sure he’s going to want to start in the big games from now on.”
Ireland Rugby World Cup squad: R. Best (Ulster), I. Boss (Leinster), T. Bowe (Ospreys), T. Buckley (Sale), T. Court (Ulster), S. Cronin (Leinster), L. Cullen (Leinster), G. D’Arcy (Leinster), K. Earls (Munster), S. Ferris (Ulster), J. Flannery (Munster), C. Healy (Leinster), J. Heaslip (Leinster), R. Kearney (Leinster), D. Leamy (Munster), F. McFadden (Leinster), G. Murphy (Leicester), C. Murray (Munster), S. O’Brien (Leinster), D. O’Callaghan (Munster), P. O’Connell (Munster), B. O’Driscoll (Leinster, capt.), R. O’Gara (Munster), E. Reddan (Leinster), M. Ross (Leinster), D. Ryan (Munster), J. Sexton (Leinster), A. Trimble (Ulster), P. Wallace (Ulster), D. Wallace (Munster).
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