'Fatigue makes cowards of us all' - Kearney and Ireland look to bounce back

The Leinster man produced some uncharacteristic mistakes against the Wallabies.

Murray Kinsella reports from Melbourne

THE FACT THAT Rob Kearney is usually such a reliably solid player for Ireland made his errors in Brisbane all the more jarring.

A penalty concession on Israel Folau from the kick-off, a knock-on in another aerial contest with the Wallabies fullback soon after, a dropped ball into touch with no competition just before half-time – these were mistakes Kearney rarely makes.

Samu Kerevi and Marika Koroibete tackle Rob Kearney Kearney was at fullback as Ireland lost in Brisbane. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

There were many excellent moments in his performance too – including a banana kick that bounced into touch, a couple of fine tackles as the Wallabies stretched Ireland, nice footwork to beat Samu Kerevi at one point – but it was a tough evening overall for the Leinster man.

His inability to get underneath Will Genia’s box-kick in the first half allowed the ball to bounce, with David Pocock snaffling it to begin the passage of attack that ended with Bernard Foley’s try in the left-hand corner.

“It was just concentration,” said Kearney. “I was just going through six or seven minutes where the intensity was off the charts and fatigue makes cowards of us all sometimes, and that was just a moment when concentration slipped on the back of a bit of fatigue.”

Kearney and Ireland got stuck into their recovery in Brisbane on Sunday morning after the 18-9 defeat but had flown south to Melbourne by the afternoon ahead of this Saturday’s second Test at AAMI Park.

With Ireland’s winning streak having ended in Brisbane, they now find themselves in the unfamiliar position of attempting to bounce back from defeat.

“It shows how difficult it is to go 12 games unbeaten,” said Kearney. “We are back to zero now, we have got to go again. Some guys won’t have experienced a Test match like that, that is for sure.

Rob Kearney tackled by Samu Kerevi and Marika Koroibete The Leinster man looks to offload. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“And you know, that is what these summer tours are about, playing these great teams and ultimately the World Cup is our goal and you have got to get the very best out of yourself when you play the best from around the world.”

That Kearney found himself so fatigued in the first half is no real surprise when you factor in the sheer amount of ground he had to cover.

Australia’s ability to strike out wide meant Kearney was forced to work hard in sweeping across to make tackles, while the Wallabies’ kicking game off Genia and their 10-12 axis of Bernard Foley and Kurtley Beale kept him constantly busy.

“The firepower they have in that backline, the way they use the ball, their strength in the air, I suppose when you have Folau you can do that,” said Kearney of the Wallabies.

“They varied their kicking game very well. They kicked off Beale a huge amount, other times off Foley, so it’s difficult. When you have got two playmakers there who are able to kick the ball, they worked us on some of those angle kicks a little bit.

“There is lots for us to work on this week. We will bounce back, pick ourselves up and go again.”

Rob Kearney tackled by David Pocock Kearney felt Pocock had a big effect on the game. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Kearney also echoed several of his team-mates in underlining that Ireland need to be more ruthless at the breakdown, where David Pocock and Michael Hooper managed to get a grip for the Wallabies at crucial times.

One thing they will be able to count on again in Melbourne this weekend is plenty of Irish fans after they were superbly supported at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

“It is brilliant, it makes a huge difference to us,” said Kearney. “It is something we never take for granted, when you hear them cheering and that full end behind the goal, all in green, they inspired us.

“But the Irish always travel so well and we always get massive support when we are away from home. That will be massive again next week and we hope there is even more Irish in Melbourne.”

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