Saturday 14 December 2019

Rob Kearney ready for battle with Jordan Larmour for Ireland’s full-back shirt

Ireland start their Six Nations campaign against France in Paris on Saturday.

By Nick Purewal, Press Association Sport

Rob Kearney is ready for his latest fight for Ireland’s full-back shirt, with fast-rising young gun Jordan Larmour.

The 78-cap Test star has admitted he expects a big tussle with 20-year-old rookie and Leinster team-mate Larmour for Ireland’s 15 berth in the NatWest 6 Nations.

Ireland start their Six Nations campaign against France in Paris on Saturday, with 31-year-old Kearney hoping he can make experience trump youth once more.

“I just think he’s a flat-out winger….if only,” said Kearney, of Ireland’s uncapped new boy Larmour.

“I suppose throughout my whole career I’ve always been in some pretty heavy battles with a lot of 15s. I could list them: Felix Jones, Luke Fitzgerald, Geordan Murphy, Girvan Dempsey and then Simon Zebo
over the last few years.

“There’s always been a lot of really good players vying for the jersey.

“I’ve been as impressed as anyone else at some of the stuff he’s done over the last couple of months and it’s a good reward for him to be called into the squad.

“I’d noticed over the last couple of years, my body and how I’m feeling determines a huge part of how I’m playing. Touch wood.

“I’ve played eight of the last nine games on the bounce now, which is pretty unusual for me over the last few years.

“When my body’s in a good place, mentally I’m enjoying the rugby and then you can start putting a bit of form together.

“And when you’re in that position, if you’ve guys coming up behind you, it’s good and it definitely spurs you on and has done over the last couple of months.”

Ulster wing Jacob Stockdale has shaken off a knock to be fit for the Paris clash, though Munster prop Dave Kilcoyne has remained with his province as he rehabs a knee injury.

British and Irish Lions full-back Kearney knows he must start from scratch to cement his spot in Ireland’s line-up, but remains as excited by that challenge as ever.

“I’ve been lucky enough over the last 10 to 12 years that every year there is a young player who gets a huge amount of hype and I think it is almost par for the course a little bit at the start of the
season,” said Kearney.

“You always have one young guy who is playing superb rugby and they do get a lot of the headline inches. That’s something I am used to over the last few years.

“So you’ve just got to be comfortable in your own skin, confident in your own game and just keep the head down and work hard.”

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, tickets to Ireland's against Scotland in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

PA Media

The Left Wing: John Cooney on Ulster's European run and bouncing back from World Cup disappointment

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport