Irish Rugby legend Rob Kearney has spoken about his ‘perfect final six months’ while playing for Australian side Western Force
Ireland’s most decorated rugby player is in the twilight of his career after spending 15 years at provincial side Leinster. After over 200 competitive appearances for the club and nearly a century of caps for the Boys in Green he felt it was time to try something new.
Before returning to his boyhood Gaelic football club Cooley Kickhams for a few games, he spent six months down under playing for Western Force.
Speaking at a media event for the new season of rugby on Premier Sport yesterday, Kearney spoke about his short stay in Australia:
“I had a great time away in Australia. It was almost the perfect final six months for me to get away and I’d always planned to play outside Ireland, and I suppose the older I got and the longer my contracts with Leinster and the [Irish Rugby] Union went on, the less likely it became.”
Rob Kearney has just scored his first Super Rugby try for the Western Force.
— EK Rugby Analysis (@ek_rugby) June 12, 2021
The Louth man only managed eight caps while playing for the Perth club, scoring a single try against the Blues.
The accomplished defender noted the challenges when moving to the new club. He understood that Southern hemisphere rugby was more focused on attack than defense and he knew he could still improve in places.
“[If] you’re a 35-year-old fullback, the changes have already been made for you, I was down there very much with the mindset that aerial game, kicking game, backfield coverages was going to be the areas, to play my strengths,” added Kearney.
Rob Kearney had form in this area of course.
Remember that time he did this from a similar position of the pitch for Ireland ‘A’ against New Zealand Maori in 2006. pic.twitter.com/8Kxyqlv4yf
— Cian Tracey (@CianTracey1) April 14, 2020
While in Australia, he also found some of the cultural differences to be a shock. Although the Wallabies have been a powerhouse in international rugby for many years, it is still not one of the more popular sports in the country.
Union rugby has to compete with the ASL, cricket, and emerging soccer to get more schoolboys and girls playing the game in the fields.
Because of this, Kearney understands the importance of the nation’s double victory of the Springbok, especially the home win on Saturday.
“It is very different, Rugby Union is very much down the pecking order, and you do feel for the Australians a little bit that the game is under real pressure there,” the rugby player added.
“That’s why that win at the weekend was huge for them, not just from that group of players but for the game as a whole in the country,”