Rob Kearney keen to avoid ‘dip’ after high of All Black performance

Leinster fullback believes competition for places keeps players focused

Kearney on his way to scoring a try from distance against the All Blacks at the Aviva Stadium last month. Photograph: Inpho

Kearney on his way to scoring a try from distance against the All Blacks at the Aviva Stadium last month. Photograph: Inpho

Fri, Dec 6, 2013, 01:00


Rob Kearney was a study in controlled ferocity against the All Blacks. As the players trotted off the field at half-time the Leinster fullback harked back to his GAA days.

A feral look of anger blazed in his eyes and jutting body language was directed at fate more than anyone in particular for stalling the most dominant showing, perhaps ever, by an Irish rugby team.

The shiny stadium felt awfully provincial.

Or maybe he just refused to climb aboard the chopper until the last wounded soldier being treated on the grass got back to his feet.

By the way, Brian O’Driscoll passed his cognitive test.

“Sometimes it is hard to say where you are mentally,” Kearney told us yesterday. “It was a game that certainly I had been building up to for quite a while. I suppose having a few injuries during the week and not quite sure if you were in or out, your adrenaline kicks on a few gears. I think the manner in which the first half had gone for us I didn’t really want to go in at half-time. I would have liked to have stayed out and kept going.”

Fractured ribs
Then there was that moment when Kieran Read torpedoed in to his already fractured ribs. Up he got, refusing to show pain yet also turning away from the right-sided line kick with that siege-gun left boot. Grimace, continue.

Unbroken to the death, having produced heroics offensively and in defence, the wonder is whether he can go again a fortnight later against Northampton. Same applies to the Seánie O’Brien’s and Jamie Heaslip’s of this world. “You are not going to get to those levels every single week but you can get close to them. The important thing for us is we don’t have that big dip that we had (against Australia).”

Returning to the blue jersey has never been a problem. Kearney will be the fullback, O’Driscoll the outside centre, at Franklin’s Gardens but Dave Kearney and Ian Madigan may struggle to shift Zane Kirchner and Jimmy Gopperth. Leinster coach Matt O’Connor, when asked as much yesterday, indicated the Kiwi will be at outhalf while the Springbok may be rewarded for his performance last Saturday, at fullback against the Scarlets, with a man-marking job on George North on the wing.

“Well, so many of the skills are transferable (to wing),” said O’Connor. “A lot of the best wingers in the world are actual fullbacks. If you look at the Cory Jane’s . . . it gives the team a lot to have blokes who are out and out fullbacks in the back three.”

First Isa Nacewa now Kirchner, Rob Kearney has never been allowed relax as Leinster’s resident number 15. “I know no different,” he shrugged. “It gets the best out of guys.”

For Madigan, in what has become a recurring problem for young Irish players, chasing after international honours creates a catch 22 situation at home.


Tough call
“Ian hasn’t been in the environment as long as Jimmy, preseason and November, so (Jimmy) had a bit of an advantage in relation to that, which he capitalised on and played very, very well,” O’Connor added. “And was outstanding on those first two Heineken Cup games and has continued that form through the Rabo. Jimmy has been very good for us, he has taken his opportunities, and Ian was very good at the weekend against Scarlets. It’s a tough call.”

A call that will be revealed at noon today.

Rabo Pro 12

Team P W D L F A BP Pts
Leinster 20 15 1 4 517 319 12 74
Munster 20 15 0 5 466 308 8 68
Ulster 20 14 0 6 431 270 9 65
Glasgow 19 15 0 4 355 259 4 64
Ospreys 20 12 1 7 499 338 10 60
Scarlets 20 9 1 10 374 400 8 46
Cardiff 20 7 1 12 388 496 7 37
Edinburgh 19 7 0 12 338 419 7 35
Connacht 20 6 0 14 336 442 10 34
Dragons 20 6 1 13 349 439 5 31
Treviso 20 5 1 14 341 533 7 29
Zebre 20 4 2 14 317 478 5 25

Pool One

Team P W D L F A BP Pts
Leinster 6 5 0 1 152 66 2 22
Northampton 6 4 0 2 107 104 1 17
Castres 6 2 0 4 78 104 1 9
Ospreys 6 1 0 5 75 138 1 5

Pool Two

Team P W D L F A BP Pts
Toulon 6 5 0 1 170 104 4 24
Cardiff 6 3 0 3 119 148 2 14
Exeter 6 2 0 4 118 123 4 12
Glasgow 6 2 0 4 98 130 3 11

Pool Three

Team P W D L F A BP Pts
Toulouse 6 5 0 1 143 63 3 23
Saracens 6 4 0 2 217 74 4 20
Connacht 6 3 0 3 101 147 1 13
Zebre 6 0 0 6 33 210 0 0

Pool Four

Team P W D L F A BP Pts
Clermont 6 5 0 1 139 69 4 24
Harlequins 6 3 0 3 126 103 4 16
Scarlets 6 2 1 3 122 150 1 11
Racing Metro 6 1 1 4 66 131 1 7

Pool Five

Team P W D L F A BP Pts
Ulster 6 6 0 0 179 62 2 26
Leicester 6 4 0 2 159 112 5 21
Montpellier 6 2 0 4 121 124 3 11
Treviso 6 0 0 6 41 202 0 0

Pool Six

Team P W D L F A BP Pts
Munster 6 5 0 1 161 77 3 23
Gloucester 6 3 0 3 113 114 2 14
Edinburgh 6 3 0 3 104 141 0 12
Perpignan 6 1 0 5 112 158 3 7