Kearney hasn't given up on World Cup
Out of sight is never out of mind when it comes to Joe Schmidt.
It seems like a lifetime ago when Dave Kearney smashed into Pascal Pape to deny France a match-turning try and, ultimately, ensure Ireland grabbed the Six Nations crown in 2014.
Still just 29, the Louth man has rarely been mentioned when it comes wearing the green of Ireland this season.
It wasn't that long ago he was out of the running in Leinster due to injury, outside the 23-man squad for the opening four rounds of the Champions Cup.
"When you have setback after setback, it gets tough mentally trying to deal with it," he said.
"You put more pressure on your performances because the chances aren't coming that often.
"You put pressure on yourself every week but you are forcing and over-thinking things."
Kearney made a significant impression against Connacht just before Christmas in the PRO14 League.
He was the beneficiary of injury to Joe Tomane and suspension to James Lowe in making further impact against Toulouse and Wasps in Europe last month, recording three 80-minutes back-to-back-to-back.
It was enough for a familiar number to come up on his phone around the time of the announcement of the Six Nations squad.
"Yeah, I had a chat (with Schmidt) before the squad was announced," said Kearney.
"He was really happy with my progress over the last couple of months."
Where there is a call from Schmidt, there is hope renewed for Japan.
Kearney knows the Ireland coach will be watching this Saturday when Leinster make the unglamorous trip to Zebre for Saturday (KO2.30, eirSport 1).
The international has to treat it like his World Cup audition because time is running out.