"I don't think that's fair" - Rob Kearney bites back after inevitable question about Ireland 3 months ago

"I don't think that's fair" - Rob Kearney bites back after inevitable question about Ireland

The former Ireland fullback was not having it.

In fairness to Joe Molloy, he would not have been the only person thinking it. Rob Kearney had his doubts about whether Ireland could win, tonight, but not about what this side are capable of.

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Ireland defeated world champions South Africa, 19-16, at Aviva Stadium to consolidate their position atop the rankings, and send a message to a side they'll face off against at the 2023 World Cup.

Ahead of the game, Kearney and his fellow Virgin Media pundits - Matt Williams and Andrew Trimble - said France were the best side in world rugby, right now. Kearney agreed with them, and even suggested the Springboks could edge Ireland too.

The two-time Grand Slam winner cautioned that Ireland would need a lead greater than 10 to told off the Boks in the second half. As it so happened, Ireland led 16-6 but a late Johnny Sexton penalty was enough, especially with South Africa dearly missing a competent goal-kicker.

Following the game, Molloy asked 'the most negative question of all time' and one that would be swirling in the heads of many rugby supporters - 'Are we peaking again, here, a year early?'

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Ireland 'peaked' in 2014 and 2015 [Six Nations wins] and 2018 [Grand Slam] before failing to get past the World Cup quarter finals. Rob Kearney knew the question was coming, and replied:

"No. I don't think that's fair.

"We played a completely different game tonight, than we have done in the last couple of years. Okay, the French game [earlier this year] was one where we came up against big men, and we nearly pulled that one out at the end... the really encouraging thing is that we can adapt to various different styles of play, depending on the opposition that we're playing against."

Kearney said the Joe Schmidt team that went from 2018 highs to some 2019 brick walls - including New Zealand in the World Cup - only had one discernible style of play.

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Andrew Trimble on it 'Ireland are peaking'

Andrew Trimble, who was part of Ireland sides that did experience highs in years prior to World Cups, admitted he could be getting naïve again, but argued that this current side are 'very, very special'.

The former Ulster winger pointed out how Ireland proved, against New Zealand and South Africa, that they are capable of fronting up against big, physical sides.

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Rob Kearney argued that it was not a faultless Ireland performance, and that is what shows they have a higher ceiling. Williams added that the victory was a 'huge momentum shift' away from South Africa, towards Ireland.

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