Rob Kearney will not require surgery on the back problem which has plagued him for over a decade and compromised his current campaign with Leinster and Ireland.
The full-back’s last appearance came in Ireland’s Six Nations defeat to England in Twickenham in late February due to a succession of hamstring injuries which stem from a lower back issue.
Surgery four years ago shaved away a portion of a disc to ease pressure on a nerve and the sciatica that ran down his leg.
Though he continues to fall foul to related issues, a recent consultation with a surgeon ruled out another operation.
Kearney will simply have to live with the problem, it seems, and continue to manage it as best he can. It is the best he can do, but it is far from the ideal scenario given the problem has a habit of announcing itself at the most unexpected of times.
“My hamstrings themselves are very strong because I’ve been doing a lot of work strengthening them,” he explained.
“It is just back related. You get no warning on them. You get out on the pitch. You feel great. You start sprinting around. And then ‘bang’.”
“That’s the frustrating part of it. I do my Pilates two, three times a week. Stretch exercises and massages every day. I’m doing everything possible to make sure I’m in the best position and then they come out of the blue. That is the tough thing.”
More frustrating is the knowledge that suffering one multiplies the odds of succumbing to another. The latest situation was becoming “chronic” once he suffered four separate twinges in quick order and there was nothing left but to bite the bullet and sign off active duty for a month.
“I just needed to be a little bit more sensible,” he said.
The effect on his game has been noticeable. Kearney’s form has been heavily criticised, but he hasn’t been helped by an inability to record a run of games. One outing here, two there has been his lot since the World Cup last October.
Too many days have been lost to rehab, rest and something he called 3D running mechanic sessions so he is understandably eager to pitch in with Leinster’s run-in to the Guinness Pro12 season, starting with Friday’s visit to the RDS of Edinburgh.
Leo Cullen’s side will again have to do without Sean O’Brien however. The flanker is reportedly making good progress from his hamstring injury, but still remains a fortnight away from a return.
That suggests he is unlikely to be seen before the play-offs for which Leinster have already qualified.
Jonathan Sexton is apparently good to go this week despite the bangs and bruises which he picked up two weekends ago, against Munster, while Marty Moore is another edging back towards availability.
Not this week, however, and Jack Conan is further back down that track.
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