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Sunday 18 November 2018

Greed is good for Kearney as Bilbao beckons for Cullen's men

'We can be part of something really, really special. Winning is a great feeling'

STAY AWAY: Leinster’s Rob Kearney is tackled by Scarlets’ Scott Williams. Photo: SPORTSFILE
STAY AWAY: Leinster’s Rob Kearney is tackled by Scarlets’ Scott Williams. Photo: SPORTSFILE

"Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.

"Greed is right. Greed works.

"Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures."

- Gordon Gekko, Wall Street

 

The words of the Michael Douglas character Gordon Gekko from the 1987 hit movie have cut through and captured the essence of what Rob Kearney has long held as the main reason why the drive to keep winning has never left him.

How does the will to win compare now to when it all started to happen for the decorated full-back?

"It's probably higher, you know," he said.

"It's human nature. You get really greedy. You want more.

"We're in a club where we are surrounded by so many ambitious, competitive people.

"The team is doing really well, chasing for silverware," said the 32 year-old.

FIVE-STAR: Leinster’s Jonathan Sexton celebrates after scoring his side’s fifth try during their Champions Cup semi-final victory over Scarlets at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. Photo: SPORTSFILE
FIVE-STAR: Leinster’s Jonathan Sexton celebrates after scoring his side’s fifth try during their Champions Cup semi-final victory over Scarlets at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday. Photo: SPORTSFILE

Leinster have spent the last five finals on the outside looking in at three-in-a-row Toulon and two-in-a-row Saracens.

Special

"There is nothing worse than having to watch that on a couch from somewhere else, not being involved.

"We can be part of something really special," he added.

"Winning is a great feeling. The more you win, the more you want to win.

"The more trophies you get, the greedier you get for more. I suppose there is that greed, in a nice way."

There was nothing nice about the way Leinster ruthlessly disposed of the Scarlets on Saturday, took everything they had and turned it against them.

The triple ground threat from Tadhg Beirne, James Davies and John Barclay was rendered unfit for the purpose of poaching.

It took a collective viciousness in the clearout from the likes of Cian Healy, Tadhg Furlong, James Ryan, Scott Fardy, Dan Leavy and Jordi Murphy to remove bodies from their path with all the force of a hurricane.

When the men from the west Wales club did free up the ball, the reputed best attack in Europe was wrapped up in a steel curtain, closed down with swift assurance.

It wasn't just the forwards, Robbie Henshaw bounding about the Aviva Stadium looking to take out his frustration for missing out on Ireland's Grand Slam heroics and the last ten weeks on everyone in a red shirt.

This is where Jonathan Sexton jumped in to upgrade, or to clarify, his evaluation of the Athlone man to Leinster.

"I probably didn't do him justice, when I spoke about him, when I said he cleans up everybody else's mess. But, look, he's got everything," said Sexton.

"What an incredible athlete to spend the time out that he has, come back and it looked like he had never been away.

"By far the most impressive performance (was) by him," added Sexton.

There are the individual constituents that contribute to the collective outcome.

There are also the comparisons certain to swirl around this Leinster in the build-up to their first final in six years.

Shadow

This won't want to be the first crew to lose a European Cup final in the shadow cast by the three previous appearances in 2009, 2011 and 2012.

So far. So very good.

Whatever about the first 15, this is the most impressive squad that has ever been assembled in Blue. On paper.

They still have to take that final step to be ranked right up there with those who have gone before.

At this stage, they are almost unrecognisable from the lot that came close enough to Clermont-Auvergne in the semi-final last year.

Saracens were the barometer for the last two years; some say Scarlets were this year.

"Yeah, well, I said we would find out if we did learn from it. So yeah, obviously we did learn a few lessons," stated Sexton, about the growth from that defeat to Clermont in Lyon.

"I think we looked like a different team compared to the semi-final last year. I suppose we are in many ways."

The rejuvenation of Healy, the progression of Furlong, the coming of Fardy and the rise of Ryan and Leavy have made it so.

"Some of the pack that played weren't around last year and they made a big difference.

"It was just really pleasing that all our hard work over the last couple of weeks paid off.

"At the same time, we know that the biggest challenge awaits us."

Sexton was not going to bite when asked to compare this year to the golden years?

"We'll find out in a couple of weeks," he smiled.

"It really is, when you come to a final, anything can happen. We know that.

"We've been underdogs before in finals and won. We've been favourites and lost," he said, in relation to how Leinster have been turned over in the PRO12 League finals by the Ospreys in 2010 and 2012, by Munster in 2011 and by Connacht in 2016.

"You need to be humble and realise everything is about our preparation now, keeping our feet on the ground.

"I don't think we are that much better than the Scarlets," he added.

"We just took a couple of chances. We were quite clinical."

They were a damn sight better than that.

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