Ireland and Leinster full-back out to make up for lost time
By Tony Curtis - Twitter: @SkySportsTC. Last Updated: August 12, 2011 4:31pm
Ireland full-back Rob Keaney is hoping World Cup glory can make up for his Heineken Cup heartbreak.
The 25-year-old, a Grand Slam winner in 2009, has been a frustrated spectator for the past eight months after he injured his knee in the autumn internationals.
Despite initially hoping to be back playing in time for the RBS Six Nations after damaging his cartilage in the November clash with New Zealand, Kearney's season ended up being written off as he underwent surgery and a lengthy rehabilitation process.
And if the agony of being injured wasn't enough, Kearney was forced to watch on as his Leinster team-mates went on to be crowned as the kings of Europe.
Kearney, though, is now back to full fitness and has his sights set on the forthcoming World Cup.
"It was brutally hard to miss the Heineken Cup final. That weekend was the toughest weekend I've had to experience as a professional."
Rob Kearney Quotes of the week
"The knee feels brilliant," Kearney told skysports.com. "I've been back full training for two months now and it has gone well. I'm just looking forward to my first match back against Scotland now.
"It would have been nice to have been back for the Heineken Cup final but I suppose it is really good timing to push for a World Cup spot.
"I've been in full contact and all is good. I gave it an extra few weeks to be certain and to be a bit clever about it and I've had no trouble.
"It was brutally hard to miss the Heineken Cup final. That weekend was the toughest weekend I've had to experience as a professional.
"Injuries are something you just can't avoid and you have to come to accept them, but it was hard to be out while my team-mates were winning silverware.
Kearney: Has been sidelined since November
"Ideally you'd like to never get injured but you can't avoid it. It is important that you move on and I'm lucky to be back and in a position to be pushing for a World Cup spot."
Ireland have been rated as the dark horses ahead of the tournament in New Zealand, with All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu among those backing them as the ones to watch out for.
However Kearney, who played in all three Tests for the British and Irish Lions in 2009, believes that the warm-up games will be vital to all the sides bidding for success.
"You are always confident in the squad and in your own ability," he said. "You feel you can beat anyone on your day.
"There are some important games before the tournament, though, as everyone will be desperately trying to find some form."
For Kearney, he will have to hit the ground running - with just three warm-up games to play himself back into the No.15 jersey.
"I don't have the luxury of club games," he admitted. "When you've been out injured for eight, nine months then you'd normally get some club rugby to get you back into it but it won't be possible for me. I will be straight into the deep end and I think that could be good for me."
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