Ireland fullback Kearney denies fatigue factor

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 15:15 06/06/2012
Rob Kearney
Photosport

NO LEAKS: Nobody will be more pleased than fullback Rob Kearney if Ireland can firm up their leaky defence in Christchurch tonight.

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Classy fullback Rob Kearney has rubbished suggestions the Irish will struggle with mental and physical fatigue on their three-test tour of New Zealand.

Ireland have been on the go for 51 weeks in a campaign that included their quarter-final finish at last year's World Cup in New Zealand.

They need to get through another three weeks here before they can put their feet up.

But Kearney, just named European player of the year on the back of another Heineken Cup triumph with Leinster, says there will be no mental hurdles facing the squad as they get ready to open the series against the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday night.

Asked how the men in green could get up with many of them having played around 30 matches for club and country over the past year, Kearney said it was simple.

"You have to. It's a three test tour against the world champions. If you don't switch on mentally it can be a very long three weeks if results don't go your way," the 26-year-old said.

"You're representing your country against the All Blacks in their back yard. If you can't get up for that, you're in the wrong game."

Kearney is on his third tour of New Zealand, having played the All Blacks four times without success.

The theory heading to Eden Park is this is Ireland's best chance to end 107 years of misery against the All Blacks because Steve Hansen's new-look coaching structure might be caught short of preparation.

Kearney's not so sure, providing a quizzical Irish answer: "It's out best chance because it's our next chance. If it doesn't go our way, then the second test is our next best chance."

But he believed Ireland could take plenty from their last appearance at Eden Park, the memorable 15-6 World Cup pool win over Australia, a result that would help their self-belief.

"We always think we can turn up and match it with the best teams in the world.

"We have really good memories of Eden Park. We played one of our finest games collectively as a team there."

Kearney admitted it would be strange for him to be playing an All Blacks side without veteran fullback Mils Muliaina who retired after the World Cup to take his game to Japan.

"But Israel Dagg has come in and done a really good job for them. When the All Blacks lose a couple of players you know others will come in and be very good."

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