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Kearney will relish Brown encounter

Ireland full-back Rob Kearney is ready to cross swords with swashbuckling England counterpart Mike Brown for both personal and collective gain at Twickenham on Saturday.

Joe Schmidt has this week hailed Brown as the RBS 6 Nations' form star after two rounds.

Leinster full-back Kearney will be at pains to make Ireland boss Schmidt revise that opinion in his favour in west London this weekend.

Kearney bested Leigh Halfpenny in Ireland's impressive 26-3 Wales victory two weeks ago, and is ready to ruin another reputation as Ireland chase the Triple Crown.

"He's definitely been England's player of the series," said Kearney in reference to Schmidt's praise for the Harlequins 15.

"He's got this really good ability to beat the first tackle a huge amount of the time.

"We've identified him as one of their key go-to men and someone we've got to shut down.

"Any time you take the field you always try to outdo the opposite number.

"You do relish that individual battle.

"It adds a little bit more spice given he has had such a strong season, and his performances are gradually going up."

England have spent all week ramping up the rhetoric to whip their supporters into a frenzy, as Stuart Lancaster seeks to strengthen his Twickenham citadel.

Flanker Tom Wood admitted he feels the Twickenham crowd is more polite than others across the European spectrum.

Steeling himself for an onslaught at odds with Wood's findings, Kearney revealed he had never experienced anything resembling decorum from the Twickenham camp.

"We've never considered Twickenham to be polite, speaking on behalf of our boys," said Kearney.

"I certainly haven't found that myself.

"It's probably him trying to make reference to that to help make it a fortress.

"There's always a great atmosphere, the English always get behind their team and it's noisy, and we like that.

"The stakes are high in these Six Nations games, and if there's not any niggle then there's probably something wrong.

"So to be honest that's kind of little niggle is a good thing.

"There's always a little bit of fear when you go away to a national stadium.

"Any time you play away from home you're never as comfortable, it's only natural.

"When you do have that fear you're that little bit more switched on though, and if you get it right it works in your favour."

Ireland have lost their last three encounters with England, including a galling 12-6 defeat at the Aviva Stadium in last season's Six Nations.

Kearney said last term's England loss represented a low point that no one in Irish colours is ready to repeat.

"The Aviva last year was a tough one to take, we were very low at that stage," said Kearney.

"And the last time we were at Twickenham we got completely bullied off the field.

"So those memories are strong in us, and we recognise that, we don't want anything similar.

"It's going to be a huge battle up front, we'll have to muscle up.

"The English power game has paid huge dividends for them throughout the years and it's no different.

"It's a great challenge for us though now."


From Belfast Telegraph