Saturday 22 October 2016

Kearney working on back-up plan

Full-back has been plagued by near chronic hamstring strains

Rob Kearney during Leinster squad training at Belfield.
Rob Kearney during Leinster squad training at Belfield.

Rob Kearney is into his eleventh season of dealing with an on-again, off-again lower back injury.

The Ireland full-back finally had an operation on a problem that mostly manifested in the trouble it caused to his hamstrings.

"I had surgery on my lower back four years ago now," he said.

"It shaved away a little bit of a disc to stop that pressure going on the nerve, the sciatica that runs right down through your leg."


The shooting pains registered down Kearney's legs eventually led to his operation in 2012, seven years after first aggravating it in a weights session and then compounding it by taking a blow against Ulster on St Stephen's Day 2005.

This season, it has been problematic, to say the least.

"My hamstrings themselves are very strong because I've been doing work on them, a lot of work strengthening them.

"It is just back related," he said, ahead of his return against Edinburgh for Leinster on Friday night.

"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, massage every day, literally doing everything possible to make sure I'm in the best position.

"And then they come. Out of the blue."

The decorated Kearney has been dogged by Grade-1 hamstring strains recently.

"They are all in the same spot, so they're linked to my lower back in some shape or form," he continued.

It has ruined any prospect of finding form and rhythm by playing minutes.

He has managed just six appearances for Leinster this season.

The latest episode occurred ahead of Ireland's second last Six Nations match.

"The day of the Italian game, I was doing some rehab. I was pretty close to returning to play. I was hoping to be fit for that Scottish game.

"In one of my rehab sessions on the Saturday, it tightened up on me. You can tell. If it's not right, you're wasting your time trying to force them.

"I was getting to that stage where it was becoming a little bit chronic. I had three or four in the space of two or three months.


"I just had to bite the bullet, take four or five weeks off, just make sure I put myself in the best place possible to give this one time to recover.

"I probably would have been fit to play a game three weeks ago. I just needed to be a little bit more sensible."

The long-term nature of Kearney's injury does raise questions going into the future, in terms of re-occurrence.

"It's unbelievably frustrating but what can I do? I cannot in any way control it."

He has two months to make the plane to South Africa.

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