And the 28-year-old Leinster back says Ireland cannot afford to be left behind with the World Cup on the horizon and other nations building for success.
"We always try and judge ourselves by performances, while results are important," Kearney told the Irish Examiner.
"The World Cup is still a long way away, but that's what we're striving for. We want to build a squad here that can be World Cup contenders, we've always said that on our day, we can match or beat the best.
"But the standard is increasing right across the world. New Zealand are getting hard to beat, the English are getting strong and South Africa bashed Wales. We have to keep evolving and improving because, if we don't, we'll be left behind."