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11th Nov 2014

‘We can beat the best teams in the world’, proclaims Rob Kearney

The Leinster fullback insists he was never seriously tempted by a move to France

Patrick McCarry

Rob Kearney echoed the dissatisfied of Ireland captain Paul O’Connell for their side’s weekend victory against South Africa. O’Connell suggested, on Saturday, that while Ireland’s win may have been his best result as Ireland captain, the performance left a lot to be desired.

Addressing the media at Carton House this afternoon, Kearney stated his belief that South Africa had ‘played poorly enough’. ‘I think it was a fantastic win for us,’ he said. ‘The scalp of getting a southern hemisphere team and the confidence it’ll bring to our team as a whole
is probably the biggest benefit of the whole thing… certainly there’s a lot of work-ons from our performance this week.’

Ireland, Kearney insisted, will not be getting carried away by toppling the world’s second ranked side. ‘Confidence is a brilliant thing and sometimes over-confidence can be a detrimental thing too,’ he said. ‘It is key we find the balance there between the two and by no means we get carried away with one victory over a South African team who played poorly on the day and didn’t really seem that the defeat hurt them after the game.’

In the Cooley native’s opinion, Saturday’s win could no be classed in the ‘perfect’ category. ‘Paris (in the Six Nations) was a pretty good 80 minute display even though we were very lucky in that 79th  minute. That was the closest performance we have had yet to an 80 minute performance.’ Ireland coach Joe Schmidt stressed his desire to make Ireland an ’85-minute’ team minutes after J.P Pietersen crossed for a consolation, 79th minute try at the Aviva Stadium.

Rob Kearney beats Duane Vermeulen 8/11/2014

Kearney continued, ‘Joe Schmidt is trying to make us winners every single week, to improve our performance on a weekly basis. He’s trying to make us that 80 minute plus team which is something we probably haven’t been a lot over the last decade or so. Us, as players as well, have learned a huge amount from recent games and that New Zealand game in particular. We have learnt from our mistakes in Paris as well.

It was a great insight of a team that had learned from that mistake against New Zealand and again at the weekend it gives us that confidence to take on southern hemisphere teams. That is huge for our mental ability going into a game, knowing we can genuinely compete and beat the best teams in the world.

The Leinster fullback admits he has only studied the Georgian backs, in video clips, thus far but will be taking time out over the following days at the visiting side’s huge pack. He says Ireland will use their close call against the ‘Lelos’ at World Cup 2007 as a cautionary tale. ‘It’s a very good lesson that if you disrespect opposition and get a bit ahead of your station and think you’re better than you are and, maybe, think the opposition aren’t as good as they are, these surprises always happen,’ Kearney told Word in Sport.

Kearney revealed his three-year deal, announced this morning, had been agreed in October but the IRFU opted to hold off on announcements until the Irish squad were in camp. He agreed the union had learned from past mistakes when contract talks were often protracted affairs. ‘It’s great security for players going in to a November series knowing that your future is safe, never mind going in to a Six Nations competition like was (the case) last year or a couple of years ago.’

Kearney declared he would have no temptations to switch to Top 14 rugby in France ‘for the next three or four years’. ‘I’ve no reason to leave,’ he added, ‘I’m part of two fantastic teams. I’m playing with all my friends and we’re still competing heavily in a lot of competitions so there was never a need for me to consider moving anywhere else.’

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