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RugbyU: O'Shea rules himself out of Ireland running

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Conor O'Shea insisted Tuesday he had no immediate interest in becoming the next coach of Ireland as speculation surrounding the future of current boss Declan Kidney intensified.

Kidney, in charge of Ireland since 2008, is out of contract at the end of the season and the team's inconsistent form since he oversaw their 2009 Grand Slam, as exemplified by Sunday's 12-8 loss to Scotland in the Six Nations, could count against him.

Former Ireland full-back O'Shea is currently director of rugby at English champions Harlequins and would appear to be the man best placed to succeed Kidney should a vacancy arise.

But the 42-year-old O'Shea signalled his commitment to the London club by announcing he would be seeing out a contract that runs until 2014.

"I'm contracted to Harlequins until the end of the 2013-14 season. I will be honouring that commitment and hopefully continuing beyond it," O'Shea said.

Four years ago Kidney guided Ireland to their first Grand Slam of the Six Nations era and only their second in history.

However, performances since then have been erratic with the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand seeing them beat Australia in the pool phase only to lose to Wales in the quarter-finals.

Ireland started this season's Six Nations in fine style with a win away to defending champions Wales. That was followed by a 12-6 loss to England in Dublin, in itself no great disgrace against a side bidding for a Grand Slam.

Sunday's reverse at Murrayfield was something else, though, with Ireland dominating possession and territory yet somehow contriving to lose despite scoring the only try of the match.

Injuries and suspension robbed Ireland of seven first-choice players in Edinburgh but, significantly, Kidney entrusted goalkicking duties at Murrayfield to debutant fly-half Paddy Jackson, in for the sidelined Jonathan Sexton, even though the 21-year-old is not the first-choice kicker for his province, Ulster.

Jackson landed just one of four goalkicks, spurning eight points in all -- a key number in a narrow defeat -- and for much of the match Ireland did not have a recognised goalkicker on the field.

All the while veteran fly-half Ronan O'Gara, Ireland's most-capped player, was on the bench, although it should be said, in Kidney's defence that his fluctuating form hadn't helped his case for selection.

Ireland's final two matches of this Six Nations see them at home to France and away to Italy.

Other candidates being touted for the Ireland job, in addition to O'Shea, include Under-20 coach and former Wales boss Mike Ruddock and Leinster's Joe Schmidt.

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