The Rejuvenation of Ireland’s Barnstorming Fullback

Rob Kearney has been a mainstay of Irish Rugby for more than a decade now. This year he has added another Six Nations Championship, and Grand Slam, to his impressive resume. Here, Erin McRitchie looks back on his career thus far.

Kearney has played for Ireland for more than a decade.

He is the beloved fullback of both club and country. The one club man for Leinster and the golden boy wearing green for Ireland. One of the best fullbacks to grace the Six Nations Championship. Rob Kearney, is a threat to any team he lines up against.

The Dublin boy was instrumental in defending the Irish line throughout this year’s championship, whilst also proving to be a lethal threat in attacking phases. Thus, helping to secure the grand slam for only the third time in the country’s history.

Perhaps testament to his influence upon the national side, is the fact that he was also a member of the 2009 grand slam winning side. The only other player to remain from that ’09 line-up is current captain, Rory Best.

The 31-year-old fullback has certainly had an illustrious career thus far, at both domestic and international level. Having debuted for the club in 2005, he can now boast 193 Leinster caps, scoring 223 points in the process.

Meanwhile, his debut for Ireland came the following year in 2006, and he currently possesses 84 senior caps, with 67 points to add to the already impressive accolade.

As if this were not already enough, the much-loved Irishman also has the prestige of having been selected for, not one, but two British and Irish Lions tours, in 2009 and 2013.

The former was to South Africa, whilst the latter saw the squad win the series 2-1 down in Australia.

No rugby player is invincible, however. Kearney, like many others before him, has had to face some struggles in his career.

Most notably, his two injury ravaged seasons within the past five years. He has suffered back troubles, hip niggles, ruptured PCLs and knee ligaments as well as his latest issue, his hamstring at the start of the 2017 season.

Every time it has looked as though his critics are ready to draw the hypothetical curtain on his glittering career, Kearney has come back with a bang.

Returning from numerous injuries, and surgeries, he has managed to continually develop and improve his game.

He didn’t become a fan-favourite for no reason.

It is this kind of raw determination and strength of character that has become synonymous with Kearney’s playing style, that endeared him to rugby union lovers.

He is a loyal and dedicated player, with an impressive work rate. Quite simply, you can’t help but respect him as a player.

So, many fans were delighted with the news last week that Kearney has extended his dual IRFU contract with Ireland and Leinster until next November.

This will follow the culmination of the World Cup in Japan. Thus, it is evident he intends to add another campaign to the two he already has.

This would add to his already distinguished career statistics of four Six Nations championships (in which he played in all 20 games), two grand slams, three Heineken cups and two Lions tours. Not bad at all.

So, the fan-favourite shall continue to grace us with his talents for the foreseeable future. Many will be hoping that he doesn’t go anywhere anytime soon, as well. After all, we may not have seen all that this legendary Irish fullback has to offer.

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