Rob Kearney says Fiji have been eyeing up an Irish upset

‘Fiji rested a few guys at the weekend, so they’re eyeing it up in some shape or form’

Rob Kearney during Monday’s Ireland rugby press conference at Carton House. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Rob Kearney during Monday’s Ireland rugby press conference at Carton House. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

 

Usually one of the coolest on the pitch, Rob Kearney felt the nerves coming into Ireland’s match against South Africa with only 80 minutes of rugby in his legs.

The Irish fullback relied on his years of experience and 77 Irish caps to guide him in Ireland’s record winning score against the Springboks last Saturday.

For the 31-year-old it was a welcome return after several months of frustrating injury

“Yeah it was brilliant I really enjoyed the day the build up to it and the week was probably more nerve wracking than I’ve had that some other games.

“But it great to be back out there. Obviously I’ve missed a lot of rugby over the last few months and probably haven’t had the amount of game time I would have liked going back into it so it’s nice to have the 70 odd minutes under my belt and get the win too.”

“Ideally you would have three of four games provincially going into the national ones so I had 80 minutes in a couple of months, so yeah it is difficult not having the perfect preparation but that’s something I am more than used to after the last couple of years.”

Kearney added that Fiji will demand respect when they arrive in Dublin for the weekend’s match.

The Irish squad watched some of the Fijian’s 19-10 defeat to Italy and the fullback believes the tourists have rested some of their stronger players to be better prepared for Ireland.

“Fiji rested a few guys at the weekend, so they’re eyeing it up in some shape or form,” he said.

“They’re definitely a team on the up and improving a huge amount. Individually we know they’re very good, but collectively they’re improving. They look like much more of a well-coached side. It’s definitely going to be a big challenge.

“We know the threats they have and some of their guys are playing as good as they have over the last few years.

“We watched a bit of it this morning, they were pretty good. They’ve got some world class individuals who we know about through the Top14 and the Guinness as well.

“They pose a massive threat individually. The key for us is to make sure our systems are in place really well and we don’t knock off to give them those individual opportunities.

“The same way South Africa at the weekend have so many talented guys, but if we can work together and make sure there’s no chinks in our defensive line then it’s tough for them to showcase their talents.

The Leinster player added that while his experience is invaluable in dovetailing with the team faster than most, his preparation must now consider what his body has gone through in the past.

“I suppose the amount of rehab and prehab I have to do now before pitch sessions,” explained Kearney. “I need to do 45-50 minutes just on my own every single morning, sessions that I didn’t have to do when I was 20 years old.

“So yeah listen, things are different but I’ve found something now that has been working for me for the last four or five weeks.”

There are a few players who will either be managed or require further medical investigation in the run in to Ireland’s game against Fiji.

Peter O’Mahony received a number of stitches to his ear, while John Ryan presented with a calf injury following the game. He will rehab in Munster this week.

The remainder of the match day 23 emerged with the usual bumps and bruises but are expected to be fit to train this week.

Jordi Murphy and Sean Reidy have joined the squad following injuries to Tommy O’Donnell and Dan Leavy, which ruled them out of selection this week. Keith Earls has returned to Munster where he will rehab his hamstring injury.

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