Declan Kidney has challenged Ireland’s Rugby World Cup rejects to bounce back from their disappointment and prove him wrong.
Scrum-half Tomas O’Leary and winger Luke Fitzgerald were the big name casualties when Kidney named his final 30 man squad for next month’s tournament.
Munster youngster Conor Murray, in only his second season as a senior scrum-half, and the veteran Leicester full-back Geordan Murphy grabbed the final places in Ireland’s travelling party.
O’Leary and Fitzgerald have paid the price for poor form of late but Kidney pointed them in the direction of Tommy Bowe – the winger was left out of the squad that went to France for the 2007 World Cup but will start in New Zealand.
“I don’t think there is any good way to give out bad news. I have absolutely no doubt that some of the lads that have not been selected will do what I call ‘A Tommy Bowe’ on it,” said Kidney.
“They’re going to come back and they’re going to burn everybody up over the next 12-18-24 months. I’ll be delighted when I see them do that. They’re all fantastic players in their own right.
“It’s not like we’ve had to search around for a player or two to fill the panel, we’ve had to leave top-quality players out.
“Tommy Bowe, four years ago, was unlucky to lose out. When you’re giving out bad news, there’s no point trying to fill these guys with smoke or stuff like that.
“They take it as the men they are and they move on and get themselves ready for their next game.
That’s what good pros do - it’s fairly cut-throat that way. I can’t speak highly enough of them”
Commenting specifically on Murray’s inclusion, Kidney said: “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.”
Murphy missed out on the World Cup in 2003 through injury but is right back in contention to play after injury kept youngster Felix Jones out of the touring squad.
Kidney added: “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.
“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.”
Leinster centre and Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll commiserated with Fitzgerald.
“It’s very disappointing for him 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,” said O’Driscoll.
“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.”
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).