Sunday 21 January 2018

'We don't have Jonah Lomu on the wing'- Rob Kearney defends Ireland's practical tactics

Rob Kearney. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Rob Kearney. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Tom Rooney

Rob Kearney has said that the demands of test rugby preclude Joe Schmidt from employing the same scintillating brand of offence with Ireland as he did while at the helm for Leinster.

After Ireland’s loss to France in round two of the Six Nations over the weekend, Schmidt’s position has come under more scrutiny than ever before.

Not just for the results, but for the basic and, often turgid style of play which has seen Ireland register just three points in their last 80 minutes of rugby. This was, after all, a French outfit which had conceded two tries and seven line breaks to Italy just a week previous.

Since Ireland were dumped out the World Cup by Argentina, there has been clamouring for a more ambitious selection policy and a move to the buccaneering all out attacks which saw Leinster win two Heineken Cups, a challenge Cup and Pro 12 title under the Kiwi.

Thus far, this has not materialised.  However, Rob Kearney told Joe Molloy of Newstalk’s Off the Ball that such comparisons are not practical. Moreover, that it is the same approach which saw Ireland win two Championships in a row.

“It’s a difficult one for me to comment on. Everyone obviously has their own opinions. It is difficult and maybe a little bit unfair to compare a Leinster team playing in Europe to an Ireland team playing on the world stage. They’re very different.

“I think sometimes you have to play to your strengths a little bit. It is the template that has worked over the last couple of years; it’s won us two championships back-to-back.

“OK, a very poor 30-40 minute period against Argentina in the World Cup, apart from that one drawn game and a one point loss away to France in Paris, it could be a lot worse. We don’t have Jonah Lomu on the wings, and not many teams do.”

 Keaney went onto the say that the Irish squad are unsettled by current circumstances difficult and, as far as his own form is concerned, he admitted that it has been far from vintage.

“As players we put pressure on ourselves and then we become greedy too. When you win one championship, you want to get straight out and win again. Before the campaign we spoke a lot about being the only team to go three-in-a-row.

“Nobody is hurting more than the players themselves.  It is difficult losing, and losing for your country is even more difficult. It’s horrible to take but it happens.

“I’d be first to say that things could be going better for me. I’m not going to beat around the bush, but the worst I could do is to go out next week and start forcing things and to prove to people I’ve still got an ability to attack.

“I’ve learned the hard way through the years that’s not how it works.  You just have to stay patient, keep doing your basics as well as you can and those moments will come,” he said.

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