Leinster v Munster derby does not have 'the same level of hatred' anymore - Kearney
Rob Kearney has admitted that the "same level of hatred" does not exist in the rivalry between Leinster and Munster, but he insists that it is to the betterment of the Ireland team.
More than 48,000 tickets have now been sold for Saturday's eagerly-anticipated clash at the Aviva Stadium (6.0) as the old foes come face-to-face for the first time this season.
And Kearney says that while the derby clashes have diluted over the many years he has been involved, they had to change in order for Ireland to be successful. When the 32-year-old first played in the fiery interpros, the infamous Leinster and Munster divide occurred when the Ireland squad reconvened. Those days are long gone however, according to Kearney.
"Yeah, it's certainly different now than it was, say, for my first one, 13, 14 years ago," he said. "There's not the same level of hatred. Guys get on much better in national camp now, a lot of the guys would consider themselves good friends and that certainly wasn't the case 14 years ago.
"So maybe back then that was a little bit to the detriment of the national team's performances.
"You need to have real strong relationships with your team-mates at national level to be a successful team.
"At least, it has come at a cost where you are getting something positive out of it. Certainly, the bond and the togetherness in the national squad is far greater than it was 10 years ago.
"I think the timing of the fixtures over the last number of years combined with the player management scheme has meant that you haven't really had the teams going full-metal, loaded up in some time.
"That's probably one of the reasons why the bite has gone out of it a bit," he added at the launch of Goodbody's new partnership with Rugby Players Ireland.