Maggs planning a surprise
February 2, 2000

Kevin Maggs is planning a surprise for fellow Bath centre Mike Tindall when the pair come face to face in Saturday's opening Lloyds TSB Six Nations Championship match at Twickenham.

The 25-year-old Maggs, who will collect his 23rd cap for Ireland, has welcomed Clive Woodward's decision to give his young club-mate his England debut and believes the time is also right for Bath winger Iain Balshaw to be given his big chance.

Tindall will line up along side another Bath back, Mike Catt, in the threequarter line, with Balshaw on the bench, while Maggs is switched from his club position to wing, where he made
his Ireland debut against the All
Blacks in 1997.

"They've been playing well over the last six or seven weeks," said Maggs. "Iain and Mike are developing a lot and it's nice for them to be picked for the national team.

"Iain has proved he is a quality finisher and just needs experience. There is nothing like playing international rugby."

Playing alongside the promising Tindall for much of the season, Maggs admits he probably knows as much about the 21 year-old's game as anyone and he will be working alongside coach Warren Gatland over the next few days to come up with a plan to keep the debutant in check.

"I know how a lot of the England players play, coming up against them week in, week out," said Maggs. "We'll have a few surprises and will see what happens.

"Mike's biggest strength is probably his ability to mix the game. He thoroughly deserves his chance and I'm really pleased for him. He has worked hard and deserves to play.

"As for his weaknesses, you'll have to wait and see."

The Bristol-born Maggs, who qualifies for Ireland through a Limerick grandfather, is moved onto the wing to pave the way for the championship debut of New Zealand-born centre Mike Mullins.

That is one of just four changes from the side knocked out of the World Cup by Argentina in France last October as Gatland resists the temptation to swing the axe.

Veteran Peter Clohessy returns to the front row, there is a place for promising lock Bob Casey and Anthony Foley comes in at number eight.

"The withdrawal of Ronan O'Gara and Jeremy Davidson because of injury made our task easier in a way," said Gatland.

Maggs and company will be aiming to lift the depression that fell on Irish rugby in the wake of that defeat in Lens.

"We were obviously disappointed, our target was the All Blacks," he said. "We let the coaching staff and everybody in Ireland down. Now we've got a chance to earn some respect on Saturday."

Ireland have won at Twickenham just four times in the last 40 years but Maggs insists playing the favourites first up is not the daunting task it appears.

"I think they're very vulnerable," he said. "It's good to get England first, obviously they have new people coming in.

"I don't want to give away too much but I just think the amount of games the England boys have played in the last month could be a telling factor."

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