Full-back Rob Kearney says he rejects the notion Ireland that need to grow in mental strength in the aftermath of their narrow defeat to New Zealand.

Kiwi head coach Steve Hansen had suggested Ireland do not quite realise how good they can be after the 24-22 Dublin victory for the All-Blacks on Sunday.

Try-scorer Kearney rejected the notion Ireland can grow in mental strength after so nearly registering their first-ever win over the Kiwis.

He said: "When we tell you that when we play our best rugby we can beat any team in the world, that's not a party-line that we trot out, that's what we genuinely believe.

"We played well today for 50 to 60 minutes, and we probably could have done a little bit more at the end.

"I haven't learned a huge amount from that 80 minutes: I know what we can do as a team when we fulfil our potential.

"I know we can beat the best teams in the world, and we came pretty close on Sunday."

"We can beat any team in the world - that's not a party-line that we trot out, that's what we genuinely believe" - Rob Kearney

Kearney's first-half score added to earlier tries for Conor Murray and Rory Best, but Ireland failed to protect their 22-7 half-time lead.

New Zealand hit back through Ben Franks, before Ryan Crotty crossed in overtime.

Aaron Cruden fluffed the conversion, only to be handed a reprieve with Ireland starting their chase too soon.

Kearney said peaks and troughs between performances are understandable – but not acceptable.

Ireland leaked four tries in a lacklustre 32-15 defeat to Australia, just eight days before producing a gritty, intense battle against New Zealand.

Kearney warned Ireland must stay far closer to the All Blacks showing than the Australia offering in future.

He said: "It enhances the next time we do play them; it will heighten our belief a bit more. We weren't there mentally last week. But the margins in these games are tiny.

"Look at the stark contrast between New Zealand Tests two and three last season.

"We're not going to get to that level every week, but we've got to be coming pretty close to it. And anything nearing last week will simply not be good enough."

Jonathan Sexton missed a 74th-minute penalty that would have stretched Ireland's lead to eight points.

Kearney admitted that proved the match-turner, but refused to lay any criticism on the Racing Metro fly-half.

Kearney said: "If we got that penalty, it's an eight-point game and difficult to come back. It was a lifeline for them. But obviously as players we will never, ever criticise our kickers, because they have the hardest job of all.

"And it was a massive pressure kick for him, and he was carrying a bit of a knock too.

"Had he got that kick it might have been different, and it was a lifeline for them. But despite missing the kick we should still have come through with the result."