Kearney dismisses Grand Slam hype

Sat, 09 Feb 2013 15:07
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Rob Kearney believes that whoever wins the Six Nations match between Ireland and England in Dublin on Sunday will still struggle to complete a Grand Slam.

Rob Kearney believes that whoever wins the Six Nations match between Ireland and England in Dublin on Sunday will still struggle to complete a Grand Slam.

Both teams head to Lansdowne Road on the back of first round victories, Ireland seeing off defending Grand Slam champions Wales 30-22 and England backing up their dramatic December triumph over world champions New Zealand with a 38-18 Calcutta Cup success against Scotland at Twickenham.

With pre-tournament favourites France having suffered a surprise loss to Italy, Sunday's match is already being billed as a potential Championship and even Grand Slam decider.

But Ireland fullback Kearney, ever-present in the 2009 Grand Slam-winning side, is not so sure.

"The sides in the Six Nations are now all so good, the days of Grand Slams are probably going to be minimised a huge amount," Kearney told a news conference on Saturday.

"For one team to win all five games is going to become a more and more difficult feat given the nature of how good all the other teams are," the 26-year-old, set to win his 43rd Ireland cap on Sunday, added.

"I think a lot of people had France down as potential champions but one defeat is not going to change that for them. There's going to be a lot of shake-ups every weekend in this competition and that's what makes it so good."

And the British and Irish Lion was in no doubt of the threat posed by an England side who beat the All Blacks by a commanding 17 points.

"I've been really impressed with them. That big win was huge for them, that they won significantly well against easily the best team in the world.

"That's no mean feat whatsoever. They've gotten a lot of plaudits for it, and rightly so, they deserve it.

"And then you always watch closely if teams can back up big performances like that and they have done against Scotland. We are under no illusions as to what we are up against. There's a quality side coming to Dublin tomorrow (Sunday)."

Ireland stormed into a 27-point lead early in the second half at the Millennium Stadium only for a ferocious Wales fightback to cut their eventual margin of victory to single figures.

"Your first game up in the Six Nations, it's always really important to get off to a good start," said Kearney.

"The first 40 minutes we did that...I think it was pretty obvious the contrast in the two 40 minutes and a lot of that is down to things we can control. We learnt a big lesson from that second half."

England have opted against recalling Manu Tuilagi to their starting side after the powerful centre, one of the stars of the win over New Zealand, missed the Scotland match with an ankle injury.

Instead they've stuck with Billy Twelvetrees, who made a try-scoring Test debut last week, and Brad Barritt, with Tuilagi on the bench.

Ireland defence coach Les Kiss, said there was no great surprise in England's centre pairing or mystery in the approach needed to counter Tuilagi .

"You can see the rationale of why they didn't put Manu on to start the game," said the former Australia rugby league wing.

"He hasn't played a lot of rugby recently and you can see a plan that they want to unleash him on us later on," Kiss added.

"When he comes on, we've just got to make our tackles, haven't we?"

AFP

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 13 February 2016
Treviso v Cardiff Blues 12h30 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
France v Ireland 14h25 Paris
Sale Sharks v Exeter Chiefs 14h30 AJ Bell Stadium
Gloucester v Harlequins 15h00 Kingsholm
Northampton Saints v London Irish 15h00 Franklin's Gardens
Worcester Warriors v Bath 15h00 Sixways
Wales v Scotland 16h50 Cardiff
Sun, 14 February 2016
Italy v England 14h00 Rome
Saracens v Wasps 16h00 Allianz Park
Munster v Ospreys 17h00 Irish Independent Park
Mon, 15 February 2016
NMMU-Madibaz v Maties 14h45 Port Elizabeth
CUT-Ixias v UCT-Ikeys 16h30 Bloemfontein
UKZN-Impi v Fort Hare 16h30 Pietermaritzburg
TUT v UWC 16h30 Pretoria
UP-Tuks v Shimlas 16h30 Pretoria
NWU-Pukke v UJ 17h00 Potchefstroom
Thu, 18 February 2016
TUT v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Pretoria
Fort Hare v Wits 16h30 East London
Fri, 19 February 2016
Zebre v Leinster 22h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
RESULT SCORE
Fri, 12 February 2016
Scarlets v Edinburgh 22 | 21
Newcastle Falcons v Leicester Tigers 26 | 14
Leinster v Zebre 52 | 0
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 13 | 10
Thu, 11 February 2016
Dragons v Connacht 21 | 26
Mon, 08 February 2016
UCT-Ikeys v Shimlas 17 | 23
UJ v NMMU-Madibaz 19 | 12
Maties v CUT-Ixias 40 | 0
UWC v UKZN-Impi 13 | 24
Wits v TUT 53 | 0
UP-Tuks v NWU-Pukke 15 | 38
Sun, 07 February 2016
Ireland v Wales 16 | 16
Exeter Chiefs v Saracens 11 | 14
London Irish v Worcester Warriors 20 | 13
Sat, 06 February 2016
Scotland v England 9 | 15
SIX NATIONS
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
England 1 1 0 0 2
France 1 1 0 0 2
Ireland 1 0 1 0 1
Wales 1 0 1 0 1
Italy 1 0 0 1 0
Scotland 1 0 0 1 0