Friday 19 January 2018

Dave Kearney: It was tough to watch it from the couch

Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

A year ago, Dave Kearney was celebrating with the Ireland team after winning the Six Nations title in Paris.

He had played every minute of every game and looked set to start the autumn series as one of the first choice wingers along with Andrew Trimble.

However, after tearing his cruciate ligament in the Pro12 semi-final against Ulster last May, his season came to a premature end and with it, his hopes of continuing to impress Joe Schmidt.

Fast forward 12 months and Kearney (pictured) was forced to watch the triumph over Scotland from his couch after failing to break into any of Ireland's five match-day squads.

Honest

"It was very tough to be honest, I'm not going to lie about it," a visibly deflated Kearney said.

"To be involved in winning the competition last year, I know what that feeling is like. That's the reason we all play rugby, to get that feeling and win big competitions.

"At the same time, I'm delighted for the lads and it's great again for Irish rugby in a big year.

"Missing out on winning trophies gives you even more hunger to win trophies again at the end of the season."

Having watched his Leinster team-mate Luke Fitzgerald overtake him in Schmidt's pecking order, Kearney must now focus on domestic affairs if he is to ensure that he is on the plane to England.

Kearney knows that Schmidt is slow to change things barring injury or lack of form and having watched Felix Jones be an unused 23rd man for the second week running, the 25-year-old is adamant that there are no ill feelings towards any of the selections.

"Jones has played well this season. He came on on the wing against Australia as well," Kearney pointed out.

"He can cover all of the positions but a lot of the games were quite tight and that was probably the reason he didn't come on for some of them.

"There's no reason why he should have been dropped. Any time he came on in November he performed well."

Kearney will need to draw on that measured approach for the remainder of the season with Leinster still battling on the European and domestic fronts. His place in the Leinster starting XV is far from assured with the international contingent to return but he knows that Friday night's game against Glasgow is crucial as he looks to stake his claim.

"I had a chat to Joe pretty much every weekend after the squad had been picked. The same before we left to go off on our separate ways," Kearney admitted.

"He said the next five or six weeks are very important but they are important for every player.

"You have to be in the squads for the big games and you have to be performing as well to put yourself in a good position for the World Cup.

Consistency

"The main thing is trying to be consistent and get some consistency in your performances and not force things. There's no point in trying too hard or forcing things because you'll end up getting frustrated and not performing well.

"It's important to get a few games under my belt now. I've probably been a bit interrupted with a couple of knocks and a couple of injuries. It took me a while to get back to sharpness after my knee (injury)," he added.

Having missed six months Kearney is playing catch-up ahead of the World Cup. Schmidt has shown faith in him in the past, it's up to Kearney now to prove he's back to his best.

Irish Independent

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