Friday 15 December 2017

Rob Kearney: IRFU have learnt lessons over player contracts

Rob Kearney hurdles over a tackle from Jannie du Plessis of South Africa during their clash at the Aviva
Rob Kearney hurdles over a tackle from Jannie du Plessis of South Africa during their clash at the Aviva
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Rob Kearney believes the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) have learnt from past mistakes when dealing with player contracts after new performance director David Nucifora brought the process forward by a number of months.

A new three-year deal for the Ireland full-back was announced this morning and he says he didn’t contemplate moving abroad at the end of his season.

The union was heavily criticsed in the aftermath of Johnny Sexton’s departure to France for its lack of haste in getting to the negotiating table and Kearney himself has spoken about the insecurity that can bring.

This time, the Louthman revealed the deal was agreed in principle a number of weeks ago, before he signed last week.

And he said the security of knowing where his future lies would stand to him in the coming weeks as the national team look to back up their win over South Africa against Georgia and Australia.

“It was all done very quickly and was very stress free.

“It probably demonstrates that they (the IRFU) have (learnt lessons), it’s great security going into the November internationals knowing that your future’s safe, never mind going into the Six Nations like it was a couple of years ago.

“For the next three or four years I’ve no reason to go abroad. I’m very happy here being part of two good teams, playing with all of my friends and we’re still competing in competitions.

There was never any need for me to consider moving anywhere else.”

Kearney was a star performer in Ireland’s famous win over the Springboks, but the full-back warned that the visitors had played poorly and that there was plenty of room for improvement over the coming weeks.

“I think it was a fantastic win for us,” he said.

“The scalp of getting a southern hemisphere team and the confidence that is will bring to our teams as a whole is probably the biggest benefit of the whole thing.

“I think South Africa played poorly enough. Certainly, there are a lot of work-ons from our performance.”

Kearney missed a chunk of rugby after straining his hamstring in the lead-up to the Leinster v Munster game last month but is not yet aware of whether he will be rested this week.

“Joe hasn’t given any real indication yet,” he said.  “Just from reading a few things from him, he will probably try and build a squad and give a few different guys some game time.

“As of today, I’ve no indication and I’m preparing to play this weekend.

“From a player’s perspective, it’s just about winning.

“The coaching staff may well have a very different perspective on that, in terms of some new guys who might get chances on building the squad. That’s very much a coaching mindset.”

Changes may be required following the Springboks victory, with centre Jared Payne to undergo further assessment on a sprained foot on Wednesday.

Team manager Michael Kearney said: "Jared is going to have further medical assessment and scans tomorrow.

"We'll know a little bit better after that. At the moment there's no detail on his chances of being fit for either Georgia or Australia."

It may be Payne is kept in reserve even if he is fit to play Georgia on Sunday.

Hooker Rory Best (calf) and flanker Chris Henry (severe migraine) are unlikely to feature against the Lelos and four players have been added to the Ireland training group in Ulster - centre Darren Cave, Munster back Andrew Conway, Leinster tighthead Tadhg Furlong and Robin Copeland, the Munster back row.

Best has resumed running and could be back to face the Wallabies.

Michael Kearney added: "It might be more prudent to give him a few more days to recover just to make sure he is right.

"A more realistic target might be Australia but he hasn't been ruled out of Sunday."

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