DAVE KEARNEY COULD have been forgiven for basking in the memory of his first international Test series for a little longer than a day or two.
Despite the frustrating late defeat to the All Blacks, the 24-year-old enjoyed two strong performances over the course of the month, including a brace of tries against Samoa on his debut.
However, Kearney says he hasn’t found it difficult to re-focus on provincial duties, particularly since this weekend’s clash with Northampton will be of comparable standard to that which he encountered with Ireland.
You just switch into it straight away. Obviously for me on a personal level, I can take confidence from playing at international level for the last couple of weeks, but definitely this game at the weekend is going to be right up there at the same pace and intensity.
“Northampton have got a really strong squad and they’ve had a really good season so far. I think they’ve had one loss in the Premiership and they have a really good home record. We know how big the challenge is that faces us. It makes it harder, the squad that they have.
Luke McGrath and Kearney [right] arrive at Leinster training yesterday. ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan.
“They had some really good signing during the summer; [Kahn] Fotuali’i, George North, [Alex] Corbisiero. They’ve got a lot of guys in the England squad as well, so we know how tough this game is going to be.”
Kearney was in the stands for last weekend’s 36-19 win over the Scarlets in the RaboDirect Pro12 and says it wasn’t easy to watch on as Luke Fitzgerald and Zane Kirchner staked impressive claims for starting roles in the Heineken Cup this weekend.
Such is the level of competition in the Leinster squad that Kearney says players are not always appreciative of being given an opportunity to rest up.
No player likes ever missing out on opportunities and you want to play every single game. I think we did really well in the first half against Scarlets. We were quite clinical and played some really good stuff, but I think in the second half we kind of took our foot off the peddle.
“As a whole, as a team, we played well and a lot of individuals had good games. The decision making on the squad [on team selection] is going to be very tight.”
If Kearney is called upon against the Saints, his physicality, work rate and aerial skills will be essential.
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