Rob Kearney learned a valuable lesson as he watched Ireland’s 2007 World Cup campaign stumble with a terrible performance against lowly Georgia in Bordeaux.
Sitting on his couch, having not made Eddie O’Sullivan’s “golden generation” squad, the full-back saw his Irish colleagues struggle under the weight of expectation placed on their shoulders against a much lower-ranked opposition he perceived were being disrespected by the men in green.
Ireland scraped home 14-10 but that was followed by tournament-ending defeats by France and Argentina and the experience was such Bordeaux 2007 has been mentioned “more than once” ahead of the return fixture with the Lelos at the Aviva Stadium this Sunday.
“I would like to think we are a very different team as the team that took the field in Bordeaux,” Kearney said.
“It’s a very good lesson that, if you disrespect opposition and get ahead of your station and think you are a little bit better than you are and think the opposition aren’t as good as they are, these surprises always happen.”
Kearney’s warning regarding disrespect is not exclusive to Ireland in 2007 as he admitted he has been in Leinster teams who have made the same mistake.
“I’m sure I have loads of times. Maybe not internationally, but it does happen provincially sometimes too,” he said before explaining how that manifests itself.
“I suppose sometimes maybe reading things in the press or paying too much attention to world rankings or past performances of one team over another team. All those indications can give people different perceptions of where a team might be at, at any particularly moment.
“So that’s why it’s been stressed to us already and why it will be stressed to us a lot more throughout the week, not to underestimate these guys.”
Meanwhile, hooker Rory Best may miss the Georgia game as he continues to rehabilitate a calf injury.
“He has started running, which is a big positive, and he did that yesterday and he’ll probably do a bit more today,” Ireland team manager Mick Kearney said. “Really, we’ll have a much better indication later in the week whether he’ll be available Sunday. Probably a more realistic target might be Australia. He hasn’t been ruled out of this Sunday, but it might just be more prudent to give him a few more days.”
Best’s Ulster team-mates Chris Henry (virus) and Jared Payne (foot), who hobbled off on his debut against the Boks are also doubtful for this weekend. Henry was forced to withdraw on the morning of the game and Mick Kearney yesterday reported the flanker was not with the squad.
“Chris Henry is feeling well, however his condition is continuing to be monitored following an episode on Saturday morning when he wasn’t well and experienced weakness. The working diagnosis is a severe migraine.”
Payne was awaiting further scans and a consultant review today before his chances of facing Georgia and Australia were determined. Andrew Conway, Tadhg Furlong, Darren Cave and Robin Copeland were added to the squad.
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