Rob Kearney laments ‘poor enough’ performances by Ireland in Argentina
‘We have to keep evolving and improving because, if we don’t, we’ll be left behind’
Rob Kearney in action in Saturday’s second Test against Argentina: “We turned over a lot of ball, our rucking was poor.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho.
with a laboured performance which struggled painfully to turn possession, territory, set- piece dominance and line breaks into points was particularly evident among the more experienced, high achieving players.
Despite signing off what he believes was one of his best seasons with another win, Rob Kearney was as condemnatory in his reaction to Saturday’s second Test as Paul O’Connell had been. “We played poor enough, we turned over a lot of ball, our rucking was poor. We had a huge amount of possession, but we lost a lot of rucks and it was hard for us to build phases, keep the ball. Still, two from two is not a bad result for us.”
Yet the suspicion lurks that the itinerary is working against Ireland, a three-Test tour at the end of a World Cup season in New Zealand would be gladly swapped with two-Test tours to north and south America before the next World Cup. Revealingly Kearney followed his captain in an unsolicited remark about events elsewhere.
Performances“We always try and judge ourselves by performances, while results are important. If, after winning the Six Nations, we are striving to be proper World Cup contenders then you have to judge yourself on performances. So I suppose it’s between the two. The World Cup is still a long way away, but that’s what we’re striving to do,” said Kearney.
“We want to build a squad here that can be World Cup contenders, we’ve always said that on our day we can match or beat the best. But the standard is increasing right across the world. New Zealand are getting hard to beat, the English are getting strong and South Africa bashed Wales. We have to keep evolving and improving because, if we don’t, we’ll be left behind.”
Seven wins from ten, including a Six Nations title and six wins from Ireland’s last seven Tests ensures Joe Schmidt’s first year “has been a real success” said Kearney, adding: “but we need to keep improving and evolving because (otherwise) we’ll get caught out.”
Like Jamie Heaslip, Kearney evidently won’t be chalking this tour down as one of his all-time favourites. “It’s difficult when these are two very different areas of the world. It was nice to get to Buenos Aires for a few days, but it has been challenging. Any tour, when there’s a fair bit of travel; it went very quickly. There was a lot of rush.”
Another of those sporting a razor sharp new haircut which he wasn’t entirely happy with, Kearney quipped: “Sexto did it. Johnny Sexton’s mother owns a hair salon in Rathgar and he’s one of the children who won’t be taking it over.”