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It’s Heads Up And Onwards To Scotland – Kearney

It’s Heads Up And Onwards To Scotland – Kearney

Despite the disappointment of losing to Wales, Ireland full-back Rob Kearney insists the squad are staying positive and focused as they park that result ahead of next Saturday’s crunch RBS 6 Nations clash with Scotland.

Rob Kearney said Ireland’s poor start had a huge part to play in the result in Cardiff as Wales raced into an early 12-0 lead. According to the Louth man, the three biggest areas that made it difficult for Ireland to claw their way back were their indisciplined opening spell, coughing up four lineouts on their own throw and getting beaten to balls in the air.

Nonetheless, head coach Joe Schmidt did not want his side to get caught up in looking back this week. They are moving on quickly to fix those problems and focus on the task at hand against Scotland.

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“There’s no pessimism within the squad. I think when you lose games and you under-perform, you’re going to get criticism and some of that is probably warranted. So I’m not surprised at the criticism and the pessimism, we’re fully aware of moods within our own camp. The main thing for us is that there’s no pessimism within the team room,” said Kearney.

“Joe was very quick to make sure that we turned the page quite quickly and looked forward to Scotland, a huge Test match in five days’ time. We’re still in with a chance of winning the Championship, so we’ll look at a few things in the game and how we can improve.

“We’ll look to do better at some of the things we’re not satisfied with, but at the same time I think it’s very important that we don’t get too caught up and we continue to look forward and get the minds focused on Saturday.”

The 61-times capped full-back agreed that the frustrating aspect of the Welsh game was that the things that went wrong were areas that this Irish team pride themselves on – the lineout, the kick chase and catching high balls, and their discipline at the breakdown.

They are areas that Ireland can rectify in a short time frame said Kearney, as they regroup at their Carton House base and look ahead to Scotland with their confidence very much intact.

“We were beaten away to Wales, beaten by a very very strong team. If you looked at the Championship as a whole, very first week, you probably would have said Wales away was going to be a very, very tough game.

“They just came off the back of beating the French away. I don’t think we can undermine the quality of that Welsh side in any way. Confidence wise, we are disappointed we didn’t fulfill our potential and we didn’t play to our potential on the day but by no means will our confidence be affected by that.”

Ireland’s post-match review today showed Kearney how the ‘small margins’ cost the defending champions against Wales. They lacked a clinical edge as they attacked inside the Welsh 22 during both halves, building phase after phase with their only real reward being that penalty try in the final quarter.

“You could say that right across the board, for the majority of the team, every single player will probably pick a few instances or moments where they could have contributed a bit better to the team. I don’t think you can particularly highlight key players. We are in this as a team. We are very team, squad, 23-reflective and the same can be said right across the board.”

Although Scotland are battling to avoid the Wooden Spoon this week, the Leinster ace feels luck has not been on their side during the tournament and that head coach Vern Cotter has brought a new dimension to their play.

Three out of their four defeats, they have lost by a converted score or less, going down by seven points to France (15-8) and three to both Wales (26-23) and Italy (22-19). Last Saturday they led England 13-10 at Twickenham before being held scoreless in the second half.

“They’re very strong. The Scottish have been quite unlucky. They were leading 13-10 at half-time in Twickenham and they were well in the game. England just pulled away in the second half, as England do because they are a quality side. That is why they are in the driving seat for the Championship.

“That game where Scotland were beaten by Italy, they were very unfortunate. A penalty try at the end did them and one they should have put away. Three of the games they have been within a couple of scores.”

Kearney reckons the Scots will be really fired up to end the campaign with an elusive win and avoid finishing bottom of the table, adding: “It’s probably not ideal that they will have a huge amount of motivation to avoid picking up that Wooden Spoon. It is never a nice accolade for a team to get.

“Without a doubt, it is extra motivation and something we will be aware of. Every single game has different meanings and values behind it, but that will be a huge one for Scotland.”