Thursday 19 September 2019

'I've been to World Cups when things haven't gone well and all of a sudden, they aren't enjoyable pretty quickly'

Rob Kearney during Ireland Rugby squad training at Carton House in Maynooth, Kildare. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Rob Kearney during Ireland Rugby squad training at Carton House in Maynooth, Kildare. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Des Berry

Winning usually takes care of everything.

It is how you get there that makes the difference, the ‘P’ for Preparation that leads to the ‘P’ for Performance which usually leads to the ‘W’.

Ireland’s Rob Kearney will go to his third and last World Cup with unfulfilled ambitions probably populating his dreams.

"Listen, any time you get selected for a World Cup, it's incredible," he said.

"Knowing it's going to be my last one does make it a little bit different, and I keep trying to tell myself to enjoy it."

"It is difficult to do," he added, surprisingly.

"But the World Cup is the pinnacle for any rugby player and, to do it for Ireland, is always very humbling for me."

Hold on there a minute! Kearney has to work at enjoying the very thing he works towards every four years. There is an element of 'be careful what you wish for' out of it.

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"They're great times and hugely enjoyable and everyone gets very excited when you're winning," noted Kearney.

"I've been to some World Cups when things haven't gone so well and all of a sudden, they aren't enjoyable pretty quickly.

"It's simple. When you're winning, you're having the time of your life and when you're not, it gets a bit tricky.

"There's no secret formula and we know what we have to do."

It is the spotlight of the stage and the adrenalin of the occasions, under-pinned by the four-year cycle of work done, that allows everyone the right to dare to dream. 

The players and coaches, well, they simply don’t have the head space to be entertained by it all when it finally comes around.

For, it is work in a global environment where winning and losing determine everything, how much they enjoy it, how well they will be treated in Japan - and when they get back home. 

Little wonder then that the players have to reel in their emotion and ambition, shrink the size of the task down into a day-by-day routine.

Otherwise, it could just all get too overwhelming to cope, like it has done every other time Ireland has traveled in expectation. 

"The more important thing for us is getting the performance, just showing that we look like a real close team, that we're starting to gel together more and we're reading off each other a lot more which probably wasn't there in that game in Twickenham.

"Performance is huge for us this week and even if you scale back the performance, it's putting it into blocks - the first 10 minutes, the second 10 minutes.

"If we can look after all those mini blocks and win all those moments, the performance and victory will look after itself."

At the moment, Ireland are looking to take momentum out of Wales into Scotland on the grand stage.

Already, the tears shed at the loss of close friends and colleagues among the nine peeled away this week are nothing more than a memory.

Kearney reserved the appropriate meaningful words for those left behind. It came with a caveat, however, as Wales look to maintain their momentum as the number one nation in the world, rather than make it.

"At the same time, you can’t have too much room for sentiment in sport either," cautioned Kearney.

"We've been given a huge task now, the lads who will take the field on Saturday.

"We really need to kick on another gear from what we've produced over the last three weeks.

"Because Scotland round one, it's a different make-up from how the pool games fell for us four years ago.

"We really need to ensure we're firing at all cylinders for that first week.

"This weekend is a big step for us."

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