Rob Kearney commits his future to Leinster after signing contract with IRFU

Ireland fullback rejects opportunity to play abroad by signing new three-year deal

Ireland fullback Rob Kearney is hoping to get more game-time against Georgia on Sunday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland fullback Rob Kearney is hoping to get more game-time against Georgia on Sunday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

 

The IRFU have stemmed the tide. What could have been a flood of leading players departing for France has turned into a trickle. Johnny Sexton slipped the net two years ago, and the union copped a fair degree of flak for letting him do so, but history may show that the outhalf’s two-year sojourn in Paris worked in their favour.

For sure, the union has probably learned lessons and seems to permit the provinces more influence during negotiations, but coupled with the return of several Welsh players, Sexton’s case demonstrates that the grass may not always be greener in the money-laden Top 14.

Wonderful news

LeinsterJamie Heaslip

Now comes the equally heartening confirmation that Rob Kearney has signed a new three-year IRFU contract keeping him with Leinster until 2018.

Every situation

“Johnny went away in the first place a little bit against his will. So I think he was always going to be, not unhappy, but never going away fully committed to the cause.

“We have had very few instances to judge the whole moving-away-to-France thing on, maybe Johnny has shown that it’s not as fantastic as everyone thinks.”

Kearney admits the outhalf’s return influenced his own decision. “You stay around in your home club because you want to win competitions and to continue to be there or thereabouts in all the big competitions. And Johnny coming back has ensured that we will do that.”

Meanwhile, Irish team manager Mick Kearney, confirmed that Rory Best was unlikely to be pressed into service against Georgia on Sunday despite returning to light training yesterday.

However, the positions of two other Ulster players, Chris Henry (who is no longer with the squad in their Carton House base) and Jared Payne, remain unclear.

Stressing that Henry was “feeling well”, Kearney said: “His condition is continuing to be monitored following an episode on Saturday morning when he wasn’t well and experienced weakness. The working diagnosis is a severe migraine.”

Kearney added that Payne “had preliminary scans post-game that showed a sprain on his foot. He will undergo further scans and a consultant review and will rehab with the national medical team.”

Entire bench

Mike Ross

And after a month without a game, Rob Kearney admitted he’d like more minutes.

“I was a little bit nervous going in, the lack of game time that I had. It wasn’t ideal but I couldn’t control it and I had to just get on with it. But I’d certainly like some more game time.”

Front-liners such Paul O’Connell, Peter O’Mahony and Sexton are likely to be rested, while the likes of Jack McGrath and Rhys Ruddock must have earned a respite as well with their workloads last Saturday.

Robin Copeland’s call-up may even suggest the coaches are considering giving the indefatigable Heaslip a rare rest.

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