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Rob Kearney: Ireland won't be fazed by France "noise"

Rob Kearney has brushed off French attempts to destabilise Ireland's build-up to Sunday's vital World Cup clash as "unnecessary noise".

France have branded Ireland hot favourites for the Pool D decider, openly placed a target on fly-half Johnny Sexton's back and admitted aiming to "unnerve" their opponents' kicking game.

Kearney must counter France fielding two regular full-backs in their back-three, with Brice Dulin on the wing and Scott Spedding at 15.

The Leinster full-back remained unmoved amid what he considers hot air emanating from the France camp however, backing Ireland to stick to boss Joe Schmidt's rock-solid approach.

"We won't be fazed," said Kearney.

"There's a huge amount of experience in this team and we've played in some massive occasions before.

"We've been exposed to hype and chat from the opposition plenty of times.

"I'd like to think we're all mature enough now and long enough in the game now to cope.

"It's 15 on 15 for 80 minutes, and everything else around that is just unnecessary noise that will have no effect on the outcome.

"Our high-ball game is part of our approach most weekends, it's won us a lot of games.

"Opposition teams know it's coming when they play Ireland, so we have to be better at that now they know it's coming on a weekly basis.

"They've picked two full-backs to deal with that as well, so we've got to be strong in that regard.

"But we've got three full-backs in our back-three, all of us have played there at some point in their career."

Sunday's victors at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium will top Pool D and face Argentina in the last eight, avoiding New Zealand in the process.

Ireland sporting greats AP McCoy, Barry McGuigan, Sonia O'Sullivan, Niall Quinn and Henry Shefflin met Schmidt's squad on Wednesday night.

The five-strong group dropped into Ireland's Celtic Manor team base just outside Cardiff, with Kearney admitting it handed the squad a timely reminder of home.

Kearney admitted Ireland's football team's 1-0 victory over Germany to secure a European Championships qualification lifeline had also further boosted the rugby stars.

"It was brilliant to meet those five: there were great stories and good chats, but there's something special about Irish people with the massive level of colloquialism that we have," said Kearney.

"Bringing all those Irish icons over to us in Wales brought all that right back.

"It was a great touch: a big thing this week is about being Irish, and that helped build it.

"And the soccer boys did brilliantly too, and it was great to see the Aviva full and everyone cheering.

"Shane Long produced an unbelievable finish to bring us back to Jack Charlton days of 'kick it long and have a go'.

"But to beat the world champions at home was an incredible achievement for them, and hopefully now it's set up a great weekend for Irish sport."


From Belfast Telegraph