Rob Kearney has opened up on his disastrous 2015/16 season, admitting the drip feed of injuries left him heartbroken and even uncertain as to whether his playing career had found a cul de sac.
The 30-year-old full-back managed only 10 appearances for Leinster last term and failed to take the field once for Ireland after the World Cup due to a hamstring issue that plagued him at regular intervals.
“Last year broke my heart,” he said.
“In three or four internationals, you’re named in the team on the Tuesday and then you go out and strain your hamstring.
“It’s tough to take and you’re not getting any form or consistency.
“You’re not stringing games together. People are on your back. You’re not playing as well as you can be. It’s tough. It is.
“So that’s why you welcome the start of a season; new mind, new body for a few weeks ahead anyway.”
His fortunes seemed to change with a convincing performance against Treviso on the opening day of the new season but a freak knee injury suffered in Glasgow a week later returned him to rehab.
He won’t feature again this week, against Cardiff, and Munster the week after sounds a stretch.
It leaves him more likely to put a hand up for selection for the European opener at home to Castres on October 15.
Also nursing a knee problem is Robbie Henshaw.
Yet to play for Leinster, the former Connacht back is, like Sean O’Brien, looking at the trip to Montpellier for Champions Cup round two as a possible re-entry point.
Frustrating as such situations are, there was a note of perspective yesterday with the news Connacht and Ireland prop Nathan White has been forced to retire due to a concussion suffered last March.
New-Zealand born White won a Heineken Cup medal with Leinster and played 58 times for Connacht.
He was 33 before earning his first Ireland cap prior to the 2015 World Cup but he earned 12 more inside the next eight months.
The news came as a surprise to Kearney, who is the current president of the player body IRUPA, and he paid tribute to a “quiet” man who played a major role in bringing success to Connacht.
“Collisions in the game are getting bigger. That is something everyone realises so the threat of these sort of injuries and these types of concussions are probably going to be on the up ... and we need to make sure we can protect players.
“We need to be doing what we are and more.”
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