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Kearney waiting in the wings

DAVE KEARNEY will probably be playing for Leinster A in the British & Irish Cup at Donnybrook on Saturday afternoon when he so badly yearns to start for Leinster in the Heineken Cup at The RDS later in the evening.

It is not a case of not good enough, rather not lucky enough to avoid injury at all the wrong times. There was corrective hip surgery in the summer which delayed his season's debut to the last week in October.

His brother Rob and left wing Luke Fitzgerald were still absent with leave. Wing options Fionn Carr and Andrew Conway had not fully taken their chances. There were three matches, three 80 minutes, one try. He was feeling better by the day.

Then, a grade-one soft tissue tear to his quad removed him for 10 days. He got back for 22 minutes against Clermont Auvergne at The Aviva Stadium.

He looked all set to start anew. The quad ripped again, another grade-one, in training leading into the Ulster PRO12 League match for a further loss of two weeks. "Even though the tear wasn't as bad the second time, I had to take longer time out to protect against a grade-two tear," he said.

'Kearney The Younger' was still not quite ready to resume when a posse of three British and Irish Lions returned for Leinster against Edinburgh last Friday night. "Timing hasn't been great at all. It has been very frustrating. Watching the three Lions come back has stiffened up the competition. I just need to get back on the pitch and start playing regularly."

First things first, Kearney will have to put his best quad forward against Pontypridd in the B&I Cup before heading off to see whether Leinster can defy logic in Pool Five of the Heineken.

"Obviously, you want to be playing Heineken Cup. You want to play in the big games. At the moment, I just want to get some game time, get fit, get my match sharpness back," he stated.

The re-introduction of Isa Nacewa, Rob Kearney and Luke Fitzgerald into the back three this week has squeezed him further given that Fergus McFadden has been in superb form this season.



Boost

"It is a boost mentally to have Rob at the back there controlling things, to have Luke's speed and footwork and Isa doing what he does best. Then, there is Drico in the midfield. His defence and attack are top notch," he said.

A serious three-quarter line can do next to nothing without the platform from scrum, lineout and the breakdown. Fast men want fast ball. It is as simple as that.

"Simon Easterby is there at Scarlets. He was the forwards coach, now the head coach. He is really good. We did get the better of them in the scrum the last time. But, that can change so easily.

"They are very strong out in the backs. They will look for quick ball out there. Tavis Knoyle at nine is good. He likes to move that ball.

"They have big lads. (Jonathan) Davies is very good in the centre and Scott Williams isn't too bad either. Lloyd Williams is one to watch. He played for Wales in the Autumn internationals.

"They like to push up hard in defence. They'll definitely come at us.

"We have been working well on our moves this week. Training has been sharp.

"It is always the case, no matter what game you are playing, you've got to see what's coming and react to that. We will be ready."