Ireland may have the experience to close out a Triple Crown game at Twickenham today but Rob Kearney has warned against giving a youthful England side too much of a head start in their Six Nations showdown.
After opening victories over Scotland and Wales this month, Joe Schmidt’s side have the chance to grab their first piece of silverware since the 2009 Grand Slam with a win over a relatively inexperienced home side with an average age of 25.3.
While accepting that Ireland’s starting XV boasting an average age of 29.5 and 724 caps compared to England’s 302 gives them more experience of getting over the line in tight matches, full-back Kearney warned against underestimating youthful vigour.
“It probably helps in the last 10 or 15 minutes of the game if it is tight,” Kearney said yesterday after training at Twickenham.
“You might back yourself a little bit more when you’ve been in those situations where games have been tight and you know they can be won in the 79th or 80th minute so you just have to wait for your opportunity.
“The important part for us is trying to make sure that we get off to a good start. You don’t want to be chasing this English side.
“They’re young, they’re fresh, they’re full of energy. If you let them get ahead of you early on they’ll be tough to catch.”
Kearney initially refused to get into Triple Crown talk but asked if today’s clash with England was merely a stepping stone to the championship, he replied: “No, there’s no stepping stone about it.
“There’s a trophy on the line and it’s very hard to win a Triple Crown these days, the standard of teams is so good.
“Those games away from home are always very difficult to win so it’s been a while since this team has won some silverware, we haven’t probably fulfilled our potential over the last few years.
“We’ve put a couple of good games together now and I suppose if we were to win tomorrow it would be a real good step in the right direction for this team.”
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