Dave Kearney has credited his pre-, pre-season workouts with brother Rob for getting him in the best possible shape to storm into Ireland’s World Cup starting line-up.
Dave, three years his brother’s junior at age 26, came through perhaps the toughest selection battle of them all in the contest to win a wing berth in Joe Schmidt’s squad and went from being considered an outsider to earning a place in the starting line-up for last Saturday’s Pool D opener against Canada, capping the journey with a try that earned his side the bonus point in the 50-7 victory at the Millennium Stadium.
It was the reward for a summer of relentless hard work as the brothers spurred each other on, even during a family holiday to Portugal, in order to enter Ireland camp in optimum shape for what was in effect an eight-week audition process to make the 31-man squad.
“It was different from past off-seasons when you take your four or five weeks off and you go off and enjoy yourself and travel,” Dave Kearney said yesterday.
“I knew I had to give myself the best opportunity of coming back in the best shape I could and start off on the best step.
“I trained a fair bit during my off-season and obviously it was good having Rob there to do that with.
“That was probably the only main difference, that I did a lot more training when I was away on holidays than I would have done in previous summers — giving yourself the best start when you come in for the first day of pre-season. When you go off for four or five weeks and you don’t really do any weight training, you drop your muscle mass and you kind of start off at square one again instead of where you finished the last season.
“So this season I just tried to keep that muscle mass up and come back where I finished off and used that pre-season to build on that again.
“That’s probably the main thing that I did, gym work, and I kept doing a bit of fitness as well.”
Putting in extra work is all well and good but having someone with similar objectives was undoubtedly a huge help, Kearney admitted.
“If you’re doing fitness on the pitch on your own it’s tough. Once there’s someone with you it’s easier. It’s competitive too, you’re working hard against each other and trying to get the best out of each other.
“Somedays the thought of going to the gym and doing fitness on your own is tough but having Rob there as well, knowing we could work together made it easier.”
The competitive edge between the brothers was another positive and the Kearneys even boxed together, their first scrap, Dave said, since a battle over the Playstation.
“We sparred but there was no real headshots,” Dave said before admitting, “there might have been the odd one slipped in. If someone hits you in the jaw, you’re not going to take too kindly to it!
“It would get heated. It wouldn’t really matter who it is you’re going up against – Rob or someone else. It’s always going to get competitive if they’re knocking lumps out of you.”
Now Kearney is hoping for another run on the wing, this time against Romania at Wembley this Sunday.
“I got a taste for it last week and it is pretty special so, if there is an opportunity I am not going to pass it up.”
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