Thursday 22 February 2018

Testing times ahead for Kearney and Lions

A dejected Sean O'Brien sits in the Lions dressing-room after losing 14-12 to the Brumbies
A dejected Sean O'Brien sits in the Lions dressing-room after losing 14-12 to the Brumbies
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

ROB KEARNEY has admitted that his chances of securing a starting spot in Saturday's first Test against Australia are slim, but the Louthman remains positive about playing a role in the series.

The Leinster and Ireland star played his first full 80 minutes since the Amlin Challenge Cup final on May 17 in the shock 14-12 defeat to the Brumbies.

The full-back was one of the few Lions players to emerge from the loss with much credit, with the Leinster ace and Welsh No 8 Toby Faletau doing their Test prospects some good with strong displays in a disjointed team effort.

However, given Leigh Halfpenny's form and goal-kicking prowess, the No 15 jersey could be beyond his reach for Saturday's first clash with Australia in Brisbane. Thus, a place on the bench, from where he launched his 2009 campaign after Lee Byrne got injured, may be the best he can hope for.

"I have no idea where I stand in terms of selection, but I realise that, if I had been more in the coach's plans, I probably would have started last weekend," Kearney reveals in his Irish Independent column today.

"That would have given them a chance to look at more combinations in the back three, but they chose to go with different options. The only thing I can do now is keep trying to get game time under me and try to impress.

"We're losing a guy a game and the intensity is only going to go up over the course of the Test series.

"It is going to get tougher, so there will be more casualties and guys will be given opportunities because of that."

Kearney admitted that the preparation for the Brumbies game had been chaotic, with Christian Wade, Brad Barritt and Billy Twelvetrees making their first appearances alongside Shane Williams, who came out of international retirement for the game.

"It wasn't ideal. With the injuries and call-ups we had guys meeting up for a captain's run and introducing themselves," he said.

"Given the attrition rate at these games, we were always going to leave ourselves a little bit open to having to call up so many players.

"It was, perhaps, unexpected that so many new faces would come into a starting team, but that's something we had to deal with."

Irish Independent

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