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sexton return key to rob stay

The return of Jonathan Sexton played a significant role in Rob Kearney's decision to sign a three-year contract extension at Leinster.

"Yeah, it was definitely an important part of my decision - him coming back," said the Ireland full-back.

"You stay around in your home club because you want to win competitions and to continue to be there or thereabouts in all the big competitions.

"And Johnny coming back has ensured that we will do that."

As always, Kearney chose to do his business quietly, out of the public arena, away from the microphones and television cameras. It was all wrapped up in a matter of two short meetings.

Discussions

The decisions of Jamie Heaslip, Seán O'Brien and now Kearney to stay at home, and Sexton's to come home, have signalled a strengthening of the IRFU's hand in contract discussions.

"I think every situation is very different, isn't it?" Kearney added.

"You know, Johnny went away in the first place a little bit against his will.

"He was a man who didn't want to go away.

"So I think he was always going to be - not unhappy - but never going away fully committed to the cause.

"We have had very few instances to judge the whole moving away to France on, maybe Johnny has shown that it's not as fantastic a thing as everyone thinks."

Moving from the personal to the collective, Ireland's disastrous 2007 World Cup and, more specifically, the match against Georgia in Bordeaux, has been mentioned in Camp Ireland.

"Yeah, more than once," said Kearney. "I would like to think we are a very different team as the team that took the field in Bordeaux.

"It's a very good lesson that if you disrespect opposition and get ahead of your station and think you are a little bit better than you are and think the opposition aren't as good as they are, these surprises always happen."

He can still recall that 2007 World Cup: "I was at home on my couch. I had the chance of being in the World Cup squad (but) I wasn't really that close. I think the whole thing was just a nightmare, wasn't it?

"That whole World Cup - and it just went from bad to worse. It was a team who, when things started to go a little bit wrong, it was very evident from looking at them that they were all in a huge, high-stress situation.

"I suppose it comes back to having that huge amount of confidence in your own ability - when things do go bad - never getting too carried away with how bad they can potentially get.

Different

"Like I said, I'd like to think and I genuinely do believe that we are a very different team to the national team that took the field in Bordeaux that day."

The exacting regime of Joe Schmidt is there for a reason.

"He's trying to make us winners every single week.

"He's trying to make us that 80 minute-plus team which is something that probably we haven't been a lot over the last, maybe, decade or so.

"I think us as players as well we've learned a huge amount from recent games and that New Zealand game in particular.

"And we have learned from our mistakes in Paris as well.

"The weekend gives us that confidence to really take on southern hemisphere teams.

"That's huge for our mental ability going into a game knowing that we can genuinely compete and beat the best teams in the world."


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