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Saturday 21 October 2017

Kearney: it's time to loosen the shackles

Rob Kearney
Rob Kearney

Full-back Rob Kearney has hinted how the removal of a Grand Slam may just allow Ireland to open up against Scotland.

"In some regards, this could be shackles released for us this week," he said.

"I think any time you get to the last game of a championship you can go and play a bit.

Certainly, Scotland have shown a willingness to take the ball through the hands to hurt England badly in the first-half in a sign of their eagerness to take what is given to them.

"When I say that, it's important the wrong perception isn't picked up here that we're going to chase this game and we're going to try and build points, because we're not.

"But we do know that we have to go out and give this game a right bash.

"It's important to get the win, but how we do that will be no different to over the last three or four weeks."

There is a difference between playing high-tempo rugby and working towards a perceived target, Kearney playing down the idea Ireland may chase points to heap the pressure on England.

"I think you're getting into dangerous territory when you're talking about words like chasing," he said.

All will be revealed when Ireland eke out that first penalty which could be nailed for three or sent to the corner in hot pursuit of seven.

IMPORTANCE

The archaic two-points-for-a-win system makes what Wales do in Rome a matter of utmost importance given they have a points-difference of +12 compared to Ireland on +33 and the leaders England on +37.

The staggered nature of the last three matches means Ireland will benefit from knowing what they have to do to stay ahead of Wales and England, the last on, will know what they have to do to stay ahead of both of them.

Will it be helpful for Ireland to know the score in Rome?

"Do I want to (know)? It's not going to make a huge difference to me," sayd Kearney.

"Will I? Yeah, because I'll be watching it. I don't think it's going to affect our overall performance too much."

Scotland may just use The Wooden Spoon to beat off Ireland's Championship goal.

Although Vern Cotter's men have not registered a single win in The Championship, they average out at losing by 6.25 points per match.

No one has really torn them apart.

Kearney was wary of not talking up what Ireland have to play for without acknowledging Scotland have their own issues.

"It's probably not ideal for us, the fact that they will have a huge amount of motivation to avoid picking up the wooden spoon. It's never a nice accolade for a team to get.

"Without a doubt, it's extra motivation for them and it's something we'll be aware of. But, every single game has different meanings and values behind it.

"That will be a huge one for them."

Ireland will need to take their chances in a way they haven't done so far.

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