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Blues brother - Dave Kearney is on his way back to old form

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Dave Kearney

Dave Kearney

Leinster's Dave Kearney during squad training ahead of their European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 3, game against Harlequins

Leinster's Dave Kearney during squad training ahead of their European Rugby Champions Cup 2014/15, Pool 2, Round 3, game against Harlequins

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Dave Kearney

That is the thing about injury.

Sure, it takes you away from the game. It also takes you away from the jersey you have worn and back to where you started.

Ireland wing Dave Kearney knows this as well as anyone.

No sooner had he possession of the national shirt than he had to hand it up as he set out to recover from a bad knee injury against Ulster towards the tail of last season.

"You pretty much are, most of the time, back to the bottom of the barrel. You need to work your way back up," he said. "It's all about getting on the squad and getting games and performing.

"It happens so many times to players coming into a game where someone is injured and it gives opportunity to someone else to perform.

"I don't think it's any different this time," he said.

During this November, Kearney has been able to find his touch against Benetton Treviso and The Ospreys in the toned-down PRO12 League.

"The fact a couple of lads were on international duty was good for me, in terms of getting game time, coming straight back into it," he said.

He swooped into Joe Schmidt's plans last season to join big brother Rob for the Six Nations, but has had to sit match-idle while Darragh Fanning has seized this season at Leinster, playing every minute of every game.

Zane Kirchner, Fergus McFadden and Fanning are there, possibly Luke Fitzgerald too, with the older Kearney almost guaranteed to start at full-back against Harlequins in the Champions Cup on Sunday.

DETAILED

A coach's memory has to be long and detailed in this game and Kearney, in reality, is a long way from back at base camp.

Matt O'Connor knows what he did last season and how sharp he has looked in the last two weeks.

"Yeah, I would like to think that some of the performances last year would have helped as well with the coaches," assessed Kearney.

It is from humble beginnings that Kearney has had to make his way in the game, debuting against Newport Gwent Dragons in the Magner's League just weeks after Leinster's 'Bloodgate' Heineken Cup quarter-final joust with Harlequins in 2009.

Those were back in the days when the London Club's moral rugby compass was blown off-course under the stewardship of Dean Richards, a man who really would do anything to win.

The current regime, operated by the scrupulously fair-minded Conor O'Shea, is all about building a culture.

Kearney sees similarities between this week and this time last year when Leinster mined five points out of Northampton Saints at Franklins Gardens.

"It was just such a big week for us. We knew how big a test it was going to be," he remembered.

"Northampton were at the top of the table and were going really well. We knew we had to be on top of our game to beat them at their home ground.

"It is the same this week," he considered.

"We lost the second game (against Northampton) last year and that pretty much defined our season. We had to go to Toulon for a tough quarter-final.

"Probably, the main thing is to try and simulate a similar performance to the Northampton one last year."

That would certainly be good enough to thwart Harlequins.


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