Kidney Shows Media Poise . For Now
SOMEONE in the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) is doing a seriously good job on Declan Kidney's public image and his relationship with the media.
A private man, Kidney has never been comfortable in front of the cameras or the massed ranks of an industry now covering rugby in its droves.
Like all Irish sports, the oval balled game has witnessed a dramatic increase in the coverage of its activities over the last 20 years.
Not that long I interviewed the late Jim Davidson on the pitch at Lansdowne Road at the end of an Ireland training session - and he was the national coach!
Today everything to do with the national team is organized down to a T, including all access to current chief Kidney.
Where once a handful of journalists followed Ireland's call, today you can have a handful of hacks from The Irish Times alone in tow with the team.
Such attention brings its own demands, and there was a feeling abroad and at home that Kidney would not be comfortable at the eye of a media storm.
Well, if Saturday's performance in Thomond Park was anything to go by Kidney is going to do just fine as Ireland's number one.
On the pitch the Irish were workmanlike as they went about the business of dismantling a Canadian team that was about as useful as the now defunct Progressive Democrats party.
Debutant Keith Earls looked a million dollars on his first run in the big green jersey, Stephen Ferris was immense in the back row, and winger Rob Kearney added to his growing reputation in the nine try rout.
Off the field and after the match was where Kidney earned his real kudos, however, as he underwent a media transformation.
Interviewed by Treacy Piggot for RTE straight after the game, the Corkman was forthcoming, interesting and even eloquent with his range of answers.
He even provided one of the more worthy responses I have heard in such circumstances when he insisted that the Irish players would enjoy Saturday's win and not worry until Sunday about the more daunting match against the All-Blacks next weekend.
"You have to enjoy these days because if you forget about enjoying them life can pass you by," said Kidney.
Such a statement would never have been heard from the old and media reticent Declan Kidney.
His job is not to please the media, and his media skills will not determine his success as Ireland's national team coach at a time when the squad badly needs a lift after recent World Cup and Six Nations debacles.
But how he handles the media will determine the level of pressure on Kidney's shoulders as he deals with one of the most stressful jobs in Irish sport.
So far it is so good for the man in charge. The win on Saturday told us precious little about Ireland, simply because Canada were so bad, but the RTE interview afterwards told us that Kidney is up to that side of his job.
As a result you will find the media on Kidney's side - for now. Like all those in charge of our national sporting ambitions he is only as good as his next game.
In Kidney's case that's against the mighty New Zealand at Croke Park next Saturday. How he copes with that situation, on and off the field, promises to be mighty interesting.
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