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'Hopefully I'm over the worst of it' - Kearney returns to boost Leinster's Pro12 push

The Ireland international has been plagued by a chronic hamstring injury this season.

Kearney prepares for training earlier.
Kearney prepares for training earlier.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

ROB KEARNEY HAS endured a frustrating season on the injury front but the fullback has declared himself fit for Leinster’s Pro12 run-in after taking an extended break.

The Ireland international has been plagued by a recurring hamstring injury this term and suffered a third setback before the victory over Italy in the Six Nations last month.

In a bid to shake off the chronic problem, the 30-year-old decided to take extra time off after the championship and has now returned to full fitness ahead of the visit of Edinburgh this Friday.

“It’s been a tough enough few months,” he told The42 at Leinster HQ this afternoon. “It’s been up and down a little bit, was in for some games, out for some so taking a good break of five or so weeks hopefully means I’m over the worst of it.

“I probably took a few extra weeks than the hamstring needed just to make sure I was well conditioned and I’d be able for a good workload over the next few months so the plan is to keep going until the remainder of the season.

“Sometimes they just need time and when you’re in the middle of a Six Nations you don’t have much time, you’re pushing it as hard as you can to get back as quickly as you can, so it’s been tough.

“I’d like to think I’m over the worst of it. Your body does give you a few signals and on those days you can sort of alter your training loads, other times it doesn’t give you any warnings and they’re the frustrating ones.”

Rob Kearney The fullback's last Leinster appearance was in January. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Kearney has been sidelined since Ireland’s 21-10 defeat to England at Twickenham in late February and his last appearance for Leinster was that humbling loss to Wasps at the start of the year.

The fullback has been unable to string a run of games together and admits the disjointed nature of the season on a personal level has been frustrating.

“It’s been a frustrating season, I’ve been picked up three hamstring niggles,” he continued.

“One pre-World Cup, one at the start of the Six Nations and one during it. It has been difficult and the thing about hamstrings is that they’re so unforgiving and you need to give them time. They can come back very quickly.

“So after the last one I just made a decision that I just needed a good block of training to recondition and restrengthen it. The body feels in a good place now so hopefully it holds up over the next few months.”

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As Leinster settle back into preparation for their next assignment following a week off, the province are looking to take a significant step towards securing a home semi-final this weekend.

Kearney knows victory over Edinburgh would strengthen their position at the summit but Leo Cullen’s side won’t be taking the visitors lightly.

“I think it’s important we take it week by week,” he said. “Edinburgh are still pushing hard for that European spot and they’ve a sniff of the top four as well so they’re going pretty well.

Marty Moore Prop Marty Moore is back in training. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

“We can’t look past this week and we know another win this week would put us in a strong position for a home semi. The fact that we’re not in Europe has given the guys time off to refocus and I think there’s still plenty in the tank.”

Victory over Munster last time out has put Leinster in pole position with three games of the regular season remaining.

After missing out on silverware last year, the eastern province will be keen to end a mixed campaign on the ultimate high – but Kearney feels it’s been a productive season regardless of what happens over the next few weeks.

“It’s been pretty good, it’s been tough in terms of a lot of in and out,” he explained. “The World Cup was obviously a distraction for the whole squad and you go through that process a little bit, during the Six Nations too.

“A lot of guys have played rugby this year, a lot of new caps, and have performed really well so if you look at it as a whole it’s been pretty successful.”

Both Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald are back in the frame for selection this week while Sean O’Brien and Marty Moore are close to a return and could feature before the end of the season.

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Ryan Bailey

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