Kearney not giving up hope of earning Six Nations recall
Spending 16 weeks out injured is a long time in any professional's book, but when you spend the majority of it not knowing when you will be fit enough to return, it can feel like an eternity.
When Dave Kearney hurt his ankle on Cardiff's 4G surface back in October, he initially didn't think anything of it. He had it strapped at half-time, but when he went to run it off, something didn't quite feel right.
A scan didn't show any significant damage, but Kearney was advised to rest for the next couple of weeks.
Having missed Ireland's summer tour of South Africa with a calf problem, even a minor setback was the last thing the 27-year old needed as he looked to hit the ground running.
Two weeks later, something was still not right. Another scan followed, this time showing that Kearney had an issue with an osteophyte (bone spur) that was catching his ligament and thus not allowing him to run freely.
"Unfortunately we couldn't see that in the scan, so it took a while to find it out," Kearney explained.
"Then eventually I went under the knife to get that out. It has been very frustrating, it's 16 weeks now. That's a long time out, especially when I thought it was only going to be a two to four-weeker.
"I got a scan and we thought it was two to four weeks. Then I maybe pushed it a bit too hard after two weeks and had a bit of a setback. I didn't really know what was going on.
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"There were some big European games coming up and then with Ireland as well. I was pushing myself to get back, but obviously had that setback along the way. It's more frustrating when you don't really know what the issue is or what the time frame is."
Kearney is back training and is in line to play just his fifth game of the season in Treviso on Sunday. Joey Carbery (ankle), Isa Nacewa (dead leg), Mike Ross (hamstring) and Fergus McFadden (quad) are also set to feature.
While Kearney's immediate focus is on putting a consistent run of games together with Leinster, he is hoping to force his way back into Joe Schmidt's plans before the end of the Six Nations.
"I suppose watching any game if you're not playing, you miss it," the winger said, reflecting on Ireland's defeat in Murrayfield.
"It's still a long way to go, still a lot of games to be played. If I can get back in the (Leinster) team and get some good performances, you never know what can happen.
"Guys can get injured, and you can get a chance. Things can happen quite quickly, but I'm just going to focus now on getting back this week."