Italy win was big for us - Kearney
Rob Kearney insists Ireland's victory over Italy has confirmed their status as a genuine force at the World Cup.
Two weeks ago the Irish hinted at their potential by dispatching second favourites Australia, but Sunday's demolition of the Azzurri in a do-or-die showdown at Otago Stadium was even more telling. Knowing that defeat would see them return home, Ireland produced a highly clinical display that swept them into the quarter-finals as Pool C winners.
"We had that great win against Australia, but there were still a lot of doubters out there," said Kearney. "This was a big day for Irish rugby, our personalities, us as a team and how we want to be perceived as a team."
He added: "Obviously there was a quarter-final place at stake and that's massive, but in terms of building a legacy and how this Ireland teams wants to be known, beating Italy was quite important.
"We finished top of the pool and are slowly creating something really special. We feel as if there's more to come.
"I hope we're perceived to a be a tough team to play against that's building and improving with every game.
"That's four wins out of four, so we have sent out bit of a message.
"Any team that won all four group games needs to be taken seriously.
"Topping the pool is fantastic and has got us into a quarter-final, but we want to go a lot further."