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Playing All Blacks motivation enough: Kearney

Leinster full-back Rob Kearney does not believe Ireland will lack motivation as they take on New Zealand despite coming to the end of a 51-week season.

Kearney believes representing Ireland in three Tests against the All Blacks is more than enough motivation.

Kearney also believes Ireland will call upon the spirit and determination that saw them defeat Australia at the World Cup when they face New Zealand at Eden Park on Saturday.

The Irish will return to the ground where they defeated the Wallabies 15-9 last September for the first of their three Test matches against New Zealand.

Kearney said: "You're representing your country against the All Blacks in their own back yard.

"I think that, as a professional player, if you can't get yourself fired up at that thought alone then you are probably playing in the wrong game."

Kearney, who won the European Player of the Year award after an impressive season with Leinster and Ireland, is looking forward to the weekend encounter in Auckland.

He said: "It was a huge occasion for us to turn over Australia in a World Cup.

"As players, we always believe that we can match it with the best teams in the world when we turn up and we play good rugby.

"As a player and as a team, you have to believe that.

"There wasn't a huge element of surprise for us (after beating Australia) as a group of players. What's important for us is that we keep trying to reproduce that form.

"We set a bar there in that game, a standard, and it is important for us to keep matching that."

Kearney admitted that it would be a different challenge to face New Zealand without Mils Muliaina, who wore the All Blacks number 15 jersey for nine years.

"Mils is a centurion and has been around for a long time," said Kearney. "I think Israel Dagg has come in and done a really good job for them and ultimately, pushed him out in that World Cup."

Belfast Telegraph