‘Those big hits happen – it’s the way the game is going’
Published 22/03/2016 | 02:30
In Dave Kearney's eyes "it's part of the game" but for the majority of those watching on, Guilhem Guirado's bone shuddering hit on him in Paris left a sour taste.
The French captain's recklessly high tackle (and that's not to mention the fact that there was very little, if any, wrapping of the arms) went unpunished by referee Jaco Peyper, and retrospectively there was no further punishment taken against him.
Life indeed goes on and although that's the mantra that Kearney has adopted in this instance, with so much debate surrounding the increasing physicality levels in the sport, the lack of punishment for Guirado certainly set a dangerous precedent.
Kearney was forced off with a shoulder injury after 27 minutes and missed the remainder of the Six Nations but looking back on the incident, he doesn't have any ill feeling towards Guirado.
"I suppose it's part of the game, picking up those injuries and picking up those niggles," he calmly suggested.
"It just happened at a bad time. I missed the rest of the Six Nations but I suppose it could have been worse. I'm back playing now which is good.
"I didn't see him at all. I looked up and went inside (Johnny) Sexton, thought I was straight through a bit of a hole but he came from the blind side and lined me up.
"I think the initial hit was probably okay. I think he got me here (shoulder). I don't know if you'd call that high but then he just slipped up and got my neck which probably was high. But at the time I probably thought it was high. But that's the way it happens.
"When I got back up then I carried again and just felt a pop again so I knew I wasn't able to play on. It could have been worse. I thought that I had done my collarbone straight away but thankfully it was just the AC."
Kearney revealed that the French hooker apologised to him and that the pair shook hands after the game, and although he was evidently appreciative of the gesture, he knows that having missed the entirety of last year's Six Nations, this season was also another massive chance lost in terms of staking his claim in what is one of the most competitive positions in the side.
While the players continue to become bigger, faster and stronger, Kearney believes that the collisions will continue to become more attritional, and he is not complaining.
"It's part of the game. It's a physical game. Those big hits happen. If it was a bit lower it would have been fine but it was just the fact that it was a bit high," the 26-year-old said.
"They're probably just happening at a higher pace. The fact that players are getting more physical, they're getting faster, they're getting more powerful, I think the collisions are going that way too.
"They probably are happening more often but I think that's just the way the game is going. There's probably no way of stopping that.
"It was just shocking timing. The same as the year before; I did my other shoulder against Wasps literally the week before the Six Nations.
"It put me out of contention for that Six Nations. It's disappointing in that sense but I'm back now and hopefully there'll be no more niggles.
"It's always tough. The only positive was that I got to be involved for two games as opposed to none the year before."
Given Ireland's recent history of injuries and the fact that there is still plenty to play for domestically before the tour to South Africa, Kearney knows that the door will soon open for him again.
"It seems to be not just wingers (getting injured), but throughout the team. The back three is a pretty competitive position," he said.
"Someone gets a bang and it puts them out for five weeks and then someone comes in and plays well and it's pretty much their spot until, I suppose, someone gets injured again, and then you get back in.
"It's pretty much a cycle, it's just the way it goes. Of course, these games are going to be important for that (Irish selection), but they're important for Leinster too. It's important that we end the season on a high and hopefully get some silverware."
Kearney's comeback continues against Connacht on Saturday, and leapfrogging the league leaders would go some way to easing the frustrations of the last five weeks.