Kid­ney com­mits to Ex­iles as drop beck­ons

Irish Examiner - Sport - - RUGBY -

De­clan Kid­ney in­sists he wants to stay on at Lon­don Ir­ish even if the Ex­iles now suf­fer a sec­ond Aviva Pre­mier­ship rel­e­ga­tion in three years.

League lead­ers Ex­eter thumped Ir­ish 45-5 in Read­ing yes­ter­day, leav­ing Kid­ney’s side nine points adrift with just 10 to play for.

For­mer Ire­land boss Kid­ney and ex-ul­ster coach Les Kiss were drafted in to try to save Ir­ish’s sea­son, but now the Made­jski Sta­dium out­fit ap­pear des­tined for the drop again.

Kid­ney has signed a twoyear deal at Ir­ish, and wants to stay on next term, even if the Ex­iles drop back down to the Cham­pi­onship.

“I was asked to come on board as tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor for a pe­riod of time and that’s what I’m do­ing now,” said Kid­ney. “I’ve en­joyed work­ing here and, if we can help the other coaches, play­ers and the club come along, then that’s what we want to keep do­ing, but we’ve got a sit­u­a­tion where we’ve got a cup fi­nal in two weeks’ time, so the short-term goal is the only goal that needs to oc­cupy our mind, and that’s what we’re fully fo­cused on.

“I’ve en­joyed be­ing back in rugby and, if it suits the play­ers, we can have a chat about it, but that’s the plan.”

Mean­while, de­part­ing Aus­tralian Sev­ens coach Andy Friend is the lat­est to be linked to the Ul­ster head coach po­si­tion when cur­rent ten­ant Jono Gibbes fin­ishes his short stint at the end of May.

The 48-year-old Friend was sur­pris­ingly stood down af­ter only 18 months on the job. Rugby Aus­tralia had said back in March that his con­tract, which is due to ex­pire in July, would be not be re­newed. The Wal­laby squad fin­ished fifth in the Com­mon­wealth Games at the week­end.

It is also widely ru­moured that Friend could bring with him for­mer Wal­laby fly-half Chris­tian Leali­ifano. The 30-year-old, who had a suc­cess­ful five-month loan spell with Ul­ster at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son was lauded by the fans at Raven­hill, not only for the way he fought back from leukemia, but the man­ner in which he went about his task.

He re­turned to Aus­tralia in Jan­uary to play in the Su­per Rugby cam­paign for the Can­berra-based Brumbies, who again named him as cap­tain.

That would ob­vi­ously fill the big hole in Ul­ster’s ar­tillery now that both Paddy Jack­son and Stu­art Old­ing are mov­ing on.

“For some, the very fact that Ir­ish pro­fes­sional play­ers may need ded­i­cated pro­grammes on re­spect­ful re­la­tion­ships, the mean­ing of con­sent, etc, will be seen to re­flect badly on Ir­ish sport

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