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Dublin: 13°C Saturday 19 September 2020

'There have been times I've been freaked out about not having perfect, full preparation'

Rob Kearney was a replacement for Leinster’s final two Champions Cup fixtures, but feels he has the experience to hit the ground running.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

ALONG WITH A historic first win over the All Blacks and the consistently strong performances in the first portion of the international season, the positivity around Irish Rugby was underlined by the introduction of fresh young talent to the mix.

To the nine new caps awarded in November, Joe Schmidt added Andrew Conway, Rory and Niall Scannell to a hefty Six Nations squad.

The new faces and swollen group has not diluted the quality of training though, according to Rob Kearney. And with the Six Nations kick-off imminent, the 30-year-old fullback issued a reminder that the momentum must be accelerated from here on in.

“The youthful part of the squad are all on good form with their province now, when they come in here there is a lot expected of them. There is a step up,” says Kearney.

“There’s never excuses made for young guys coming in, to slacken off (on them) a bit. It’s important they bring exactly what they bring to their province and a bit more.”

He added: “we trained really well last week and we got intensity from the off.

“I’ve been involved in campaigns where, because you’ve no Test at the end of the week. Everyone takes the foot off the gas a bit and you’re just doing enough to get by. But last week we got a lot of good work done and we made some good gains to put us in a good position this week.”

After speaking about how he handles the pressure of competition for his jersey, Kearney went on to admit that having players snapping for the same place in the team can be a distraction from the duties you might expect of a squad leader. However, the Louth man also stressed the importance of leading by doing.

“For me, the best way to drive standards is through your actions. It’s not necessarily always talking, piping up and bringing lads with you. The best way I can drive standards is making sure I’m training as well as I can and making as few errors as possible.”

Rob Kearney Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Limiting the errors and playing to the best of his ability has been frustratingly out of Kearney’s reach at times last year. After clocking up over 80 minutes even as a replacement in the closing stages of the Champions Cup, he could have slipped in an easy throwaway line about how he now feels 100% fit. But 100% is perfection, flawless and Kearney has cursed his body too often over the past 18 months to see 100%.

“You don’t get perfect at it, you only just get better at managing and dealing with it.

“There have been years gone by where I’ve been freaked out about not having the perfect full preparation and not having the three or four full 80 minutes leading up into and it is wasted energy.

“I can only do what I do and prepare now as best that I can, like I say, I have been in a lot worse places coming into the start of a game.”

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Source: The42 Rugby Show/SoundCloud

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