Tuesday 20 February 2018

Dave Kearney’s physicality gives him the edge

In what is probably Ireland’s most well contested area in the team, the back three, Dave Kearney is holding his own.

There’s an embarrassment of riches in the back line when it comes to Irish rugby. Speed, skill and composure under the high ball are there in abundance. Any team that can afford to leave Simon Zebo on the bench must be well stocked in that regard.

Dave Kearney, once under the radar form an international point of view, is holding his place and has been one of Ireland’s most consistent performers for some time. He has been called a favourite of Joe Schmidt, but we all know, Schmidt doesn’t do favourites. It’s just that, from his time at Leinster, the Kiwi has known exactly what the younger Kearney is capable of and he does the job asked of him.

What Dave Kearney brings is a relentless physicality, a positional awareness that sees him on the right shoulder at the right time, and the acceleration to break the line and to score. He’s not afraid of a big tackle either and in the World Cup, where teams are at the peak of a four year cycle and at the peak of their physical development, physicality is key. It was certainly the case against the French that the game was won and lost in the collisions.

Dave and his brother Rob are undoubtedly naturally gifted footballers, with their GAA background evident in the skillset, and while Rob specialises in high ball acrobatics and a booming left foot Dave specialises in hard running and strength and explosive pace. That comes down to hard work too.

With all the natural talent in the world, it’s hard work off the pitch that makes the difference. How many Hensons or Ciprianis have we seen, who have talent to burn, but never realise their full potential, while the Kearney’s commitment to fitness and training to be the best athletes they can possibly be marks them apart and means they achieve on the biggest stage of all.

Dave is from farming stock too, his family farm in Co. Louth was the backdrop to the beginning of his love affair with sport. It wasn’t until he followed his brother to Clongowes Wood College that the ball in his hands was changed to an oval one. He then played rugby every day.

Building strength and the kind of conditioning necessary to play professionally relies on hard work but diet is a key component too. A balanced diet with plenty of carbohydrates is fundamental, as is protein to build muscle and recover. Dairy plays a key role in Dave’s dietary requirements and he along with his brother Rob, fronts a campaign for the National Dairy Council aimed at promoting the message that dairy is an important part of their dietary requirements.

For young and for old, whether you’re representing your country on the biggest rugby tournament in the world or busy growing building strong bones and muscle for the future, milk, along with a balanced diet can supply much needed minerals, vitamins and fats needed.

There’s a lot of support behind the Kearneys, with the Irish in full voice over in England and packing stadiums to record numbers, there’s lot of graft and hard work that got the boys where they are and Irish milk is one of the fuels that powers their tilt at the Webb Ellis trophy.


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