Rob Kearney looks to big Irish performance
Ireland are trying to bridge a 14-year gap when they travel to Paris on Saturday
Rob Kearney: “You need to be on top of your game, not just for 40 minutes but for a full 80.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
One win against France in Paris in 42 years, argues Rob Kearney, does not require Ireland to arrive all tangled up with notions of inferiority.
“No, absolutely not, not a complex,” he says with some vehemence.
Two years ago Ireland appeared to have the match in their possession and handed it back. This week, even if the home side arrive in Stade de France in more of a spin than Ireland have been in recent years, Kearney’s claims of a clear collective mind doesn’t come without a warning.
Tommy Bowe’s fourth and fifth try of the 2012 Championship gave Declan Kidney’s side a 17-6 lead but the final 17-17 result had the taste of defeat.
‘Top of your game’
“You need to be on top of your game, not just for 40 minutes but for a full 80,” cautions Kearney. “We were on top of our game for 40 minutes last time and then let it slip hugely. By no means a complex . . . it’s just when you play quality teams you have to play your best rugby.
“They’re the one team that you can’t afford to switch off from,” says the Ireland fullback. “They have that ability – I keep saying it – that they can damage you from anywhere. But they can. I think it was one thing last year there was one poor kick, poor kick-chase, the loose ball went, we tried to take a few hacks at it and we’re seven points down, so . . .”
With two tries conceded in four matches, Irish pride in their defence has foundation and the team is now looking at the match as a final, the one-off event appealing to the players’ sense of performance and opportunity.
At club level most have done it against the French in France: “It’s a nice place to be that we just have to win the game, we don’t have to force things,” Kearney says. “We were a little bit guilty of that in the Italian game at times. There was a little bit of a frantic thing to our game that we felt we had to score points.
“But, yeah, it’s a final. With your provinces you work maybe nine or ten months to get to a final and there is this huge build up. We’re very lucky that after four games we’re in that situation. It’s massively exciting and with that comes a huge opportunity but huge disappointment if you let it slip.”