Rob Kearney has spoken about the difficultly of learning he was not included in Ireland’s Six Nations squad for the upcoming campaign, describing the phone call he received from coach Andy Farrell as leaving him “rattled.”
Regarded by many as one of the best full backs to play for Ireland, Kearney has enjoyed an illustrious international career winning 93 caps and helping Ireland to four Six Nations Championships and two Grand Slams, in 2009 and 2018.
The Leinster man has yet to announce his retirement from international rugby and may still harbour hopes of a return to the green jersey – but was left out of Farrell’s Six Nations panel and will turn 34 by the time this year’s edition ends.
At 33, there is little chance of Kearney still being involved with the Ireland team by the team the World Cup in 2023 comes around and it is felt Farrell feels the time is right to start the changing of the guard in his panel, with an eye to the next World Cup cycle.
Kearney appears on the The Line-Out on Virgin Media Two tonight (10pm) and he told hosts Andrew Trimble and Muireann O’Connell that it was difficult to take at first, he understands the situation he is in.
“I was a little bit rattled,” he said. “I’m a realist as well, after the World Cup, I’m 33 and there’s a new cycle coming. But you’re never prepared for it. It was difficult but the road has to end sometime for everybody. Listen, you never know I’ve been involved in sport over the years where things can change over the course of a week or two. I’m training away. Such is life, we just get on with it.”
On Ireland’s chances this year, following on from their last eight exit in the Rugby World Cup, Kearney said, “It’s wide open. Ireland have a bit of a point to prove. I think we’ll do it.”
His brother Dave has been included in the panel, being selected for the fourth time in his international career, but for first time since he made three straight squads between 2014 and 2016.
In a wide ranging interview tonight, Kearney will discuss his career, the Six Nations, the Boring Rob Kearney Twitter account, his seventh cousin Joe Biden, his engagement to girlfriend Jess and his hopes of returning to play GAA for Cooley Kickhams once he retires from professional rugby.