View Full Version : Knox blasts Kidney appointment

13-05-08, 08:17 PM
Knox blasts Kidney appointment

http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnis...uo-1373918.html (http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/peter-bills/knox-lsquokidneyrsquos-methods-are-bizarre-ndash-munster-people-think-he-is-a-messiah-but-i-donrsquot-understand-itrsquo-1373918.html)

Declan Kidney was the last person Ireland should have chosen as their new national coach, it was claimed last night.

"I think it's a big mistake," said Australian David Knox, who has been Leinster's backs coach for the last three seasons. "The Irish international team badly needed a foreign coach. After the Eddie O'Sullivan era, they wanted someone to test these guys, show them a new way to play.

"Kidney's methods, like making the team train in the away strip they'd be wearing at Gloucester in the Heineken Cup and playing them a tape of the crowd noise at Kingsholm to get them used to the conditions, are bizarre.

"I would be embarrassed as a coach for people to know that. The Munster people think he is a messiah but I just don't understand that."

Knox says that an outsider would have helped Ireland achieve the one crucial thing that has eluded them during the O'Sullivan years. "They haven't evolved as a side. A guy like Jake White or Nick Mallett would have done that. You only have to look at the Italian backs this year to see that.

"They have played better and actually produced some good stuff; better than a lot of other teams. Their results weren't too good but at least there was some evolution there. There's been none with Ireland."


Knox was also heavily critical of Munster's playing style under Kidney. He acknowledges their successes in the Heineken Cup but maintains they have achieved glory in that competition at the expense of any style or flair.

"And when those players come to play at the very highest level, such as a World Cup, they come up short," he insists.

Who is he thinking of? None more so than Ronan O'Gara.

"I have been here, coaching in Ireland for three years, and I have never seen that guy create space for anybody. I've never seen him put anyone into a hole. Yet over here -- in the world of Irish rugby -- he ranks with Dan Carter as the best fly-half in the world. I have never heard such rubbish.

"O'Gara plays for a team that plays like Queensland used to do in Australia. Good on him, Munster are going to win the Heineken Cup again, I'm sure of that. But please don't come and say afterwards you play good rugby because look at what happened in the World Cup against even ordinary opposition. When the Irish forwards aren't playing at Thomond Park and wearing Munster jerseys, beating up the opposition every time, it's a different story.

"To me, guys like Ronan O'Gara and Stephen Jones of Wales are very similar. They're great provincial players for their team because they have a way of playing and they've been doing it for years. But when they go to the next level and they face the very best players in the world, they are out of their depth. You need to do more than that at Test level but they can't do it.


"You only had to see O'Gara playing for Ireland against England this year to understand the problem. He stood 10 metres back the whole game and just threw the ball to Shane Horgan and he got all the blame for that game."

What Knox calls Munster's limited, blinkered rugby is part of the reason for Ireland's players' inability to succeed on the world stage. "Munster's record is fantastic but you can't tell me they play anything but 10- man rugby," he said.

"Unfortunately, players can't just switch on style play when they get into the international arena. It doesn't work like that. Ireland did it just very occasionally, like when they beat England by 43 points at Croke Park. Even O'Gara attacked the line that day, as he did against Australia.

"Maybe once or twice in a lifetime, things go your way. But when you go back to Munster you can't do that. And like I say, you can't just turn a switch on or off. You have got to practise it; it's got to be an attitude.

"Munster get 30 points on the board by grinding away and when the other team is shot, they try and throw the ball around a bit. Then people say, what a great team. It's rubbish.

"If Doug Howlett had played for Leinster this season, he would have ended up scoring 30 tries. He's scored about three or four for Munster. He's seen as the greatest buy of the year but how often has he touched the ball? Maybe 10 times in a real attacking sense? I'm talking about serious attacking play, not chasing kick-aheads. Yet this is one of the world's premier wings.

"They have no idea how to use him. And the two other guys they brought in from the southern hemisphere, Rua Tipoki and Lifeimi Mafi, hardly ever played Super 14 rugby. I think Tipoki made a couple of appearances off the bench. They are both steppers, they never pass the ball."

Knox also slammed the failure of Munster to utilise the skills of Brian Carney. "Carney played NRL for the Newcastle Knights in Australia and was wing of the year. He decided to come to Munster but he hasn't learned anything about wing play there. All you do as a wing for them is spend your whole season chasing kicks.

"Who is advising that lad? He was the best wing in NRL, he's got to have something special. But he's gone back 10 years since he joined Munster."


Knox admits he has been bewildered by what he called "the paranoid world" of Irish rugby during his stay in Dublin. Throughout those three years of his stay, he revealed that Ireland's then coach, Eddie O'Sullivan, never once contacted him to discuss any of the Irish international players with whom he was working, day in day out.

"I never met O'Sullivan once; never even talked to him. I had got five of his back-line in our team and was working with them every day. But I think it goes back to what I call the paranoid world of Irish rugby. I guess people think you want their job. What else reason could there be? After six months when you haven't heard a word from them you assume that is the case.

"You're Irish national coach and you've basically got just two provinces, with one or two representatives from Ulster, from whom to pick the team. Wouldn't you ask the guy in charge of them at provincial level 'How is this guy going, who's in form, who looks sharp at the moment?' I thought it was strange."

That blinkered approach under O'Sullivan was symptomatic of Ireland's narrow-minded playing style under him. Knox said: "You just had to see the way they played. There was no evolution in their game. They played Munster rugby and then gave the ball to the backs and hoped Brian O'Driscoll and Gordon D'Arcy would get through out wide.

"They had some good wins over England and won Triple Crowns. Fair enough. They also made much of beating Australia and South Africa in November Tests. But the southern hemisphere sides brought second-string teams.


"They were just blooding guys, trying things. It seemed to escape Ireland's notice that most of the top Aussies and Springboks had stayed at home when they managed to beat them in Dublin. You couldn't take much from either of those games.

"I have watched Ireland for three years and it's been the same every time, nothing different. No variety, no attacking runners coming around the back of the man on attacking runs. And the personnel hasn't changed either.

"Horgan's best position is wing yet they picked him at centre when O'Driscoll and/or D'Arcy was injured. They had no one else. But they never put any pressure on the guys in the team. Yet that's what coaching is about: finding people and improving them, evolving a different game and making sure you move forward as a team.

He added: "Ireland have done none of that in the last three years yet the coaches these days have so much time with guys before internationals. It's not like the old days when you didn't even meet up until two days before the match."

Knox cited Ireland's inability to counter the speed rush defence they encountered in the World Cup as an example of how they had prepared poorly with a blinkered approach. "They didn't have any answer to that but I suppose they felt everything was going well and they didn't need to worry," he said.

The Aussie was amazed at one particular conversation he had with a member of Ireland's World Cup squad before they left for France last autumn.

"He told me before the tournament, 'We're in the semi-finals. We will be playing Italy in the quarter-finals and we're through'. He was convinced that was how it was going to go.

"I said, 'Sounds pretty easy'.

"There was this thing that they had done well in the Six Nations and everyone in Ireland was pumped up. A lot of people thought they would win the World Cup."


At times in the wide-ranging interview, Knox did not even spare his own players from criticism of the type of rugby produced. "When we played Munster at the RDS a few weeks ago, we won 21-12, six penalties and a field goal to four penalties. People were going crazy because it meant that we had almost certainly wrapped up the League.

"It was a really emotional game but I remember saying to someone afterwards, if that match had been played in Sydney, no more than 500 people would have turned up the next week. But here, people don't mind. It's amazing," he said.

"Over here, going to a game is a day out. They go to the pubs, then the game and go back to the pubs. It's like the Six Nations weekends. It's all a great atmosphere and everything but for me, the best part of the day is when they sing the anthems.

He added: "Most of the time, the rugby is so poor. But I guess that's what you have been brought up with. It's a pity because the game could be so much better here."
Brewing up quite a storm over here. Cheka has pretty much said its nothing but a rant from an "x-employee", but some of what he says makes sense to be honest. A slightly bitter parting shot at Irish rugby. In my opinion though its only making the headlines because it hits close to home.

Leinster sever Knox ties

http://www.planetrugby.com/Story/0,18259,3...3560305,00.html (http://www.planetrugby.com/Story/0,18259,3551_3560305,00.html)
Leinster have swiftly announced their disassociation with former Assistant Coach David Knox following his recent comments on the state of Irish Rugby. Australian Knox parted company with the Magners League province and after leaving the title winners, he spoke out on the national appointment of Declan Kidney along with slamming Munster and Ireland fly-half Ronan O'Gara.

Subsequently Leinster have acted to separate themselves from their former employee and his parting words.

"Leinster Rugby wishes to clarify that David Knox is no longer an employee of Leinster Rugby," read a press release. "His recent comments in the media are in no way a reflection of the view of our organisation and we strongly dissociate ourselves from the views and thoughts of this recent ex-employee." "None of his thoughts are representative of the province and are completely independent of those held by either the playing squad or management." [/b]

13-05-08, 08:30 PM
Sounds like someone needed some attention...

13-05-08, 10:04 PM
Forget Irish rugby, what about the Irish press? They choose bland headlines over obvious 'You must be Kidneying me!' and 'He's Knoxing some heads together!' puns. They sure have a thing or two to learn from Fleet Street's finest.

14-05-08, 08:50 PM
Fair amount of truth in what he's saying, but I just don't get the criticism of ROG. And Munster have moved on, although I fear it won't be far enough to take the HEC.

Worried that Carney hasn't made an impact for Munster, Howlett hasn't scored much, and Tipoki and Mafi are chaos merchants - defence breakers for both sides! So Knox may be right about Kidney, but we'll have to see.

I sympathise with the notion of Irish paranoia - the sow that eats its own farrow - and the need for an outsider. But what's really needed is the right guy at the right time. Set your clock ... for November.

14-05-08, 09:08 PM
I agree with that. Carney has the attributes of a great winger but gets no ball and when he does it's because it's a last resort. I love the Mafi/Tipoki Partnership but It would be nice to see a passer play 12. Wouldn't mind seeing ROG play there in the ML once or twice. Still Knox may be bitter but he would be taken more seriously if he didn't goo on the attack instead of just making the points.

28-05-08, 12:18 AM
Kidney has made Munster European champions twice. I agree there might have been a case for a foreign coach
with a fresh approach. But Kidney is definitely not a bad appointment. Remember Staunton as our soccer
manager. The man had never managed before. At least Kidney is an experienced and successful coach.
Nobody can knock him for wanting the job, and nobody can say he doesn't deserve it.

Knox does sound very bitter. Its a pity. I wonder how much he's damaged his relationship with some of the people he has worked with at Leinster.

30-05-08, 12:28 PM
Leinster let him go, so obviously the relationship wasnt the best before hand.