Saturday 25 November 2017

Kearney urges Ireland's Lions to leave tour pain in past for Aussie clash

Rob Kearney
Rob Kearney
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

ROB KEARNEY believes that Ireland's Lions need to put last summer's series win out of their minds ahead of Saturday's meeting with Australia.

Johnny Sexton has spoken this week of how Brian O'Driscoll is going into Saturday's Test with a point to prove after being axed by Warren Gatland for the decisive clash with the Wallabies in July, while Kearney himself watched all the Tests from the stands as he lost out on selection to Leigh Halfpenny.

Ireland are likely to have 10 players who featured for the Lions in Australia in their match-day squad, but rather than channel that memory, the Leinster full-back believes it is time to move on and focus on the task at hand.

"I think it's always a little bit of a dangerous one if you look to the past and try and get into your head, 'I have to go out here and try and do something extra-special to prove to the world why I should have been involved in the summer Tests'," said Kearney.

"Of course there is a little bit of that and you are coming up against the team who you felt you maybe could have done a good job against this summer, but certainly what happened on the Lions during the summer won't be anywhere near my psyche.

"What happened in the summer won't really affect us. It won't be in our mental make-up this weekend."

Tommy Bowe returned to training at Carton House yesterday and Joe Schmidt looks set to have a full squad to choose from as he prepares to announce his team tomorrow.

Luke Marshall appears to be pushing Gordon D'Arcy hard for a starting spot, while Mike McCarthy is likely to retain the No 4 jersey as partner to Paul O'Connell, who looks set to start and captain the side despite Devin Toner's performance last Saturday.

Kearney believes that the clash represents the pivotal game of the Guinness Series.

"It's a huge game. It's probably the one game of all three that before the series was going to grab the most amount of attention," he said.

"We had a good hit-out last week, we needed it and it was good for us. But there is no doubting that this is a huge game."

Irish Independent

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