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'Mentally tougher' Ireland won't fall into complacency trap -- Rob Kearney

The fullback is adamant the world’s second-ranked side cannot afford to rest on their laurels.

Ireland's Rob Kearney.
Ireland's Rob Kearney.

IRELAND FULLBACK ROB Kearney has warned his side against complacency ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

Joe Schmidt’s men have risen to number two in the World Rugby rankings having won consecutive Six Nations titles and lost only one of their last 13 internationals, But Kearney insists that he and his team-mates still have plenty of improving to do if they are to make an impact on the biggest stage of all.

“As soon as you start to believe that you’re the finished article and that you don’t need to improve anymore, that will be your downfall,” he said in an interview with BeIN Sports.

“If you can marry that and constantly have the idea that you need to be improving, you need to be better in your performance on a weekly basis, then you’re in the sort of mind-set that is needed to compete at a World Cup.

“Listen, with winning back-to-back Six Nations comes expectation.

“As players, we need to ensure and maintain levels, knowing that if we don’t perform on a given day, we can get beaten by any team in the world.

“It’s more important that in the environment of a group of players and coaches and staff that we control our own expectations as opposed to having expectations put down on us.”

The 29-year-old Leinster man went on to claim that his side’s impressive recent form means that they will be mentally stronger than they have been in previous tournaments.

‘Better equipped’

“I’d like to think that we’re a little bit mentally tougher so that when those big games do come and we’re in the dying minutes of close games, we have the ability to close them out and go on and win them,” he added.

“Winning is a habit and the more big games you play, the more finals you play, the better equipped you are at dealing with the big occasions.

“If I take an example of 18 months ago, we were 19-0 up against the All Blacks at home in Dublin and we still managed to lose it.

“I think if you put this Irish team in that scenario now, I think we’d be a lot better equipped to close out that game.”

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